MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hours before President Barak Obama arrived in Cuba, more than 50 protesters were arrested while demanding improved human rights.READ MORE: Celtics Rule Smart, Horford Out For Game 1 Against Heat
During his historic visit to Cuba, the president is scheduled to meet with dissidents including Cuban political activist Antonio Rodiles.
Rodiles has made headlines around the world. He’s been arrested, harassed and even beaten — he claims by a Cuban government police. He’s also a coordinator of Estado de Sats – a forum created in 2010 to encourage debate on social and political issues in Cuba.
He stands up for change and speaks his mind in a country where freedom of speech is not tolerated by the Cuban government. He joined CBS4’s Marybel Rodriguez while visiting Miami and spoke openly about the president’s historic visit.
“Do you think that this is going to make a difference? Is anything going to change when the president visits Cuba realistically,” asked Rodriguez.
“We have had visits by three popes. They have visited Cuba and the situation is worse. We need to see exactly what is going to happen, what the regime is going to do. Here it’s really critical what the regime is going to do because everybody probably has good intentions but we need to see in the practice what is going to happen and what the regime is going to do after the visit and before the visit. On several occasions, the regime has been arresting the opposition and they have been cutting communication and we need to see in practice what is going to happen,” said Rodiles.
Earlier this month, Obama wrote a letter to the protest group ‘Ladies In White’ saying that he will talk with Cuban leaders about civil rights violations and freedom of expression.READ MORE: Man's Remains Found In Shallow Grave Behind Miami Gardens Home, Woman Arrested
Rodiles has been persecuted for promoting those values for years. A picture taken last year shows him badly beaten for speaking his mind. Despite that, he says he will not stop until there is freedom for the Cuban people.
“I think the Cuban people need to feel hope for the future and that’s why sometimes the expectations are too high. The point here is not just the expectation, it’s the facts what we are going to obtain,” said Rodiles.
Orlando Gutierrez who lives in Miami and is with the Cuban Democratic Directory also joined in.
“If the president’s visit is to meet with Antonio Rodiles, with the forum, meet with the pope in Cuba who are struggling for change…if the president’s visit is for that, then it will push democracy in Cuba,” said Gutierrez.
The U.S. has been estranged from the communist island for more than half a century until Cuban leader Raul Castro and President Obama moved towards renewed relations more than a year ago.
For Rodiles, he can only hope the president will get to see the reality the Cuban people are living.
“The main point here is that it’s not just a show. We don’t want a show. We want real facts and we want to move in the direction of a democratic transition that is what we want,” said Rodiles.
CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez and Rudabeh Shahbazi are in Havana for this historic trip and will have live coverage on CBS4 News.MORE NEWS: Surfside Condo Collapse: Former Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey Confident Everything Was Done By Rescuers To Save Lives
Click here to read more about U.S.- Cuba Relations.