Néstor Rodríguez has been released. See the update below.
It has been a long, hot summer for Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, president of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy. In July, he went on a hunger strike after the authorities blocked him from traveling from Baracoa in far eastern Cuba to Havana. Additionally, the dictatorship unleashed goons from its "rapid response brigades" to harass and threaten Rodríguez and other activists. Officials finally relented and said Rodríguez could travel, for whatever that was worth.
Apparently, it wasn't worth much. Reports — here (in Spanish) and here (in English) — are that Rodríguez was arrested Aug. 20 after one of the thugs who harassed him last month accused Rodríguez of "threatening" him, as if government opponents in Cuba have any such ability.
The day after Rodríguez's arrest, his brother, Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, said the real reason Nestor was arrested is that he had carried out a protest in front of his apartment building in Baracoa.
"He yelled anti-government slogans like 'Down with Fidel and Raúl,'" Rolando said, according to a report from human rights activist Juan Carlos González Leiva.
As of late last week, there was no word on Nestor Rodríguez's whereabouts.
Meanwhile, about 20 members of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy on Aug. 22 marched in Guantanamo to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, which crushed the "Prague Spring" softening of communist rule.
In the town of Banes, police arrested three activists who had participated in a similar demonstration. One of the protesters, Ángel Luis Santiesteban Rodés, remained in custody as of last week, according to Cuban Democratic Directorate.
(Cross-posted at Babalú.)
UPDATED, Aug. 25, 2008
Néstor Rodríguez was released on Aug. 23, but not before police fined him 1,000 pesos.
For what, as is common under the communist "justice" system, was not clear. Independent journalist Tania Maceda Guerra reports that despite the fine, Rodríguez was released with no charges being filed. Of course, in Cuba that is only a technicality, as the dictatorship always reserves for itself the whens, wheres and whys of how it metes out "justice."
What is known is that Rodríguez, who has been imprisoned on three separate occasions for a total of 10 years, is not in the clear.