“The situation in which we live is untenable,” Mr. Rodiles wrote in his letter. Anyone who disagrees with the regime “is destined to be treated in a humiliating and degrading way.” Cuban citizens are kept in “a total state of defenselessness” by the abusive state. “It is impossible to remain indifferent to a power that systematically steps over the dignity of citizens and its own laws with total impunity,” he wrote, “a power that orders its representatives to act as common criminals.”
We are reminded of similar calls to action a decade ago by the courageous dissident Oswaldo Payá, who sought a referendum on democracy in Cuba and who died in a suspicious car wreck on the island in 2012, along with another activist, Harold Cepero. Their deaths still cry out for independent investigation. Mr. Payá was subject to harassment similar to what Mr. Rodiles endures today.
No doubt, the Castro brothers have calculated that the oppressive power of their state apparatus will be sufficient to intimidate or overpower a handful of people at a homespun human rights conference. They are wrong. From such living rooms grows immense change. Recall that Andrei Sakharov once began a lonely quest like Mr. Payá and Mr. Rodiles, speaking out against repression when it was dangerous and only a few would dare. Mr. Rodiles has done no less, and his voice must be heard.