Are Anguish, Bitterness and Loneliness Only Names of Havana Streets; / Angel Santiesteban

A voyage to the end of all things.

By Antonio Correa Iglesias, June 6, 2014

Angustia (Anguish), Amargura (Bitterness) and Soledad (Loneliness) are not only names of Havana streets. They also are discovered feelings that seize and condition that which we call Cuba, the infinite island, which Abilion Estevez and Virgilio Pinera call the fate of being cursed, a portion of earth that floats in the sea, a sea that is the beginning and end of everything, where weightlessness and drifting are forms of keeping afloat.

But the island is also longing and folly, desire and debauchery, hatred for those who have made Cuba a prison of 111,111 square kilometers, as Reinaldo Arenas reminds us in his Leprosorio. The island and its agony accompany us each morning when we prepare coffee, a coffee which reminds us where we came from, and by those smoky silhouettes of a woman we remembered the amazing knitting grandmother who  helped the homesick and the spoiled greet the dawn. How Cuba hurts, and hurts much more when we find in a literary exercise a daily reality like that which Angel Santiesteban Prats describes for us in a clear and visceral voice.

The Summer When God Slept (Neo Club Editions), by Santiesteban Prats, isn’t just one more novel that adds to the already extensive and archetypical denomination of “Cuban literature,” from which many — including the author himself — have been excluded.

The Summer When God Slept coexists in a very special place, once it encounters an unexploitable reality not only from the sociological and political order, but also the esthetic and experiential. A reality that by its “everydayness” passes to being assisted history — many times loaded with “comicality” — but that the author handles with the rigor that he always brings rigged to the traumatic act.

That’s to say that Angel Santiesteban’s novel isn’t only a stark x-ray picture of the Cuban context: It’s above all a blog where hidden desires and frustrations, longings and deceptions exist, trying to expunge the feeling of guilt that gravitates — consciously or unconsciously — over our heads.

The voyage is the driving thread of the narration, a voyage like going and returning, like a Nietzchean return, with an eternal return of the same, an endless spiral like those hallucinations that wake us up in the somersault of dawn and tighten our chests.

The voyage that Angel Santiesteban proposes results in a crossing marked by the curse of incertitude, a voyage like a traumatic passage associated with death, a voyage without the guarantee of a destination. A voyage in which death waits patiently and heteromorphically, cross-dressed in hallucinations, decomposition and the deterioration of the human being.

The decision to escape — the foundation of the voyage — the conviction to leave, a transcendental and definitive action of life, is the plot-line of the novel. However, this voyage drags with itself calamities and dangers narrated as extraordinary experiences, once the characters in the novel embody others who have met death on the trip. The desperation of the traveler brings them to grasp themselves “with their fingers, their fingernails …until they bite the wood, the wind or even my own skin….” Yes, it’s precise.

The author manages to construct the drama of the text, and the exercise is of such magnitude that the reader feels himself teletransported; you are no longer only the one who reads; you appear with them, you are one of them, and like an argonaut (that’s to say, like a hero), you search for the Golden Fleece — in our case, Liberty.

Because the sensation of fleeing has to be earned, the voyage is a process of tearing into shreds your awareness of what you leave and where you are going, although you know nothing of your final destination. The sensation is of abandoning weight like a ballast, like a stone infinitely weighing on your shoulders, since what you leave is who you are. So the sensation of abandon in the characters of the novel confuses itself with the coldness of the night, which always reminds you of death.

Because the flight comes associated with the anguish of saying goodbye, a goodbye that is in the voice that resonates in the depths of your being, the doom of a delirious echo that torments. Because the goodbye is accompanied by a sensation of eternity that weighs down and clouds the consciousness of whoever – mumbling his lyrics — knows that he has no guarantee of return.

So the dream of fleeing the island — a laboratory island of politics, a laboratory where the consequences of the experiment and the human cost aren’t registered (the cost in terms of a future isn’t considered in the statistics) — begins to be a reminiscence until it’s converted, as the author says, into a virus, a virus that has inoculated a whole society and that corrodes, in a slow but at the same time delicate and emphatic form, every portion of you, dawning one day, confused by the continuous evaporation of desires and illusions — now that all the illusions have died, like the song about the Matamoros* — and some other unknown end.

Antonio Correa and Carlos Alberto Montaner during the presentation of the book (photo by Ulises Regueiro).

In The Summer When God Slept, nostalgia for the past is a recurring theme, fictional, never political; however, the longing for the past not only invalidates the present for us but also makes the future impossible. For the characters in the novel, to be anchored in the past safeguards the possibility of existence, a life that no longer belongs to them because it lacks a fate, once it’s marked by the calamities and sufferings of a people.

Neo Club Press

*”Matamoras Banks” is a song by Bruce Springsteen about an illegal immigrant who drowns while crossing the Rio Grande River.

Translated by Regina Anavy

20 June 2014

The New Robin Hoods (1) / Angel Santiesteban

In a visit to France I was told I was a terrible Cuban because I was abstinent, didn’t smoke, didn’t dance at all, I didn’t even drink coffee, and I only eat fruits. Since then I have assumed it would be more difficult for me to understand others.

A few months ago I wrote a post in which it could be understood that I justified those who are taken as prisoners, because I explained that, according to them, the life of liberty was extremely difficult, and well, in their homes they had to confront the stark reality, and in some commentaries, or perhaps in only one, I commented, with every right, that no crime has a justification, which I reaffirm, of course. This would entail a sanction against Robin Hood, who committed misdeeds, stole from the rich to give to the poor.

Incidentally, none of the prisoners who are in prison with me have robbed particular houses, perhaps because of the poor socioeconomic status in the society, because the majority live with them daily, and the new rich live in protected areas. Neither have they robbed specific businesses, in Cuba there are none, or the few snack bars that exist are of very low income, and those prosperous businesses were also located in zones with major surveillance.

The majority of the inmates who have robbed, like to assert that they have stolen nothing from the people, only the state, because they simply feel scammed because in return for their intelligence or physical strength they receive nothing, the wages are barely enough to eat.

And don’t be deceived, here there are those with a low level of education, but the majority have degrees in economics and they even have PhDs. There are also engineers, doctors, and other diverse professionals, decent people, Catholics and Christians, who have also committed a crime.

When you investigate for what reason, they tell you they studied a minimum of five years in the university and are not even able to afford sneakers for their kids to go to school. It is humiliating, one tells me, “I have to wait for my wife’s brother to remember his nephews and send them some consignments.” My eyes opened upon realizing the personal shame. “My father in law,” he continued, “when he was in Cuba, would make fun of me for studying late at night until dawn, while he engaged in illegal negotiations, assuring me that I was wasting my time. What is worse? He was right.”

Here they meet severe penalties for transgressing and selling some concrete mixture for construction. Or the economist who accepts twelve dollars as a Christmas present for his good work throughout the year, or the purchaser, who once in a foreign country, without affecting the company for which he worked, he received a secret commission that is not read on paper, and fulfilled his task, perhaps even buying the product in question at the best price ever. Or the food grocers who took products from the black bag like everyone else.

Manuel Garcia

The King of the Fields

There is an official commercial network in Cuba that sells only what is not found in the parallel commercial market of resellers. When they are offered a job position, before asking about the salary, Cubans determine what is being produced and if it is easy to evade work. That is how most Cubans live.

The professors and doctors sell their friendliness, nurses sell how to “resolve” things, that is get them done, or private tutoring that cost 1 CUC a class. No father earns that amount, 25 pesos is all the money for one day, but if they don’t pay it, it is possible that their kids will pass the grade level with very poor school grades.

One would have to ask if stealing for food is a crime. If it is more decorous for families in the island to live off of the sweat of family members abroad. And if stealing from the state is not similar to stealing from the king of the fields.

Angel Santiesteban – Prats.

Prison settlement of Lawton. May 2014.

Please sign the petition so that Amnesty International will declare Angel Santiesteban a political prisoner.

Translated by: Bianca Martinez

12 July 2014

Historical Remnants: Julio Sanguily, the Great Traitor / Angel Santiesteban

Men and women make history, later, it is collected by historians, based on documents that serve as evidence of those events.

For which Cuban is it not a point of pride, the rescue carried out by General Ignacio Agramonte he snatched the imprisoned official Julio Sanguily from the Spanish troops, which came to be one of the epic battles — – comparable to those of Ulysses and recorded in The Odyssey — for the waste of courage, noble sentiments, and generosity that could only cause that possible suicide, given the superiority in numbers of the enemy troops?

Nonetheless, it has been approximately 10 years since payments by the Spanish government to their spy, Julio Sanguily have been discovered. It is certain that he was also a spy for the American government and received his price in gold. It is a fact that in various occasions, Julio Sanguily received money and used it for his own personal purposes.

The most hurtful — to my understanding, because I am no historian, only one constant consumer of the investigations of those who are authorized in this subject — was that the money sent by José Martí for the start of the war in 1895, strategized and arranged by the Apostle (as Cubans call Martí), and which Sanguily received, was poorly wasted without helping the revolt. His brother Manuel maintained himself in an upright and consistent position with the fight for the good Cubans.

Despite the great wounds received in combat for Julio, the money was his weakness, or, seeing his body so sacrificed, he decided to exchange sacrifice for pleasure, something that was repeatedly done by a certain type of Cuban throughout history. This reality has also been dealt with with secrecy, although it has already been recorded by some historian, precisely the one who found the documents of the payments in the archives of the peninsula.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison settlement of Lawton. June, 2014.

Please follow the link so Amnesty International may declare Angel Santiesteban, a Cuban political prisoner

Translated by: Bianca Martinez

11 July 2014

The Tribal Unity of the Dissenters / Angel Santiesteban

I want to mention the appearance of laziness inside the Cuban opposition, because — in my opinion — this is what most corrodes our political force and does the lamentable work of the common enemy.

And I’m not even referring to those who must be sprinkled among us doing the terrible and cowardly work of the satraps, but also to that partitioning of ideas and movements, where each one thinks he’s better and more important, and that his work will be most recognized.

I have listened to those who talk about themselves and their work, and — even recognizing their merits — later I have seen how they end up lowering themselves, diminishing themselves as human beings. They leave much to be desired from those feelings that — I take for granted — all fighters for human rights should have.

Comprehension and respect are important to co-exist with others and above all, you know what, not thinking you’re better than anyone else… Just as there are a lot of people who don’t like me… it makes sense to assume that I can’t like a ton of imbeciles… no?

Sometimes, the daring of confronting a regime isn’t sufficient when we ignore common sense and let them impose that mechanism educated in misery that they have imposed on us since birth.

We will always fail when we show that we are isolated tribes, those on the Island as well as those in exile, and on that subject, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) has taken a laudable step, uniting people in the whole national territory; today, together with the Ladies in White, it’s one of the most constant and effective coalitions against the dictatorship.

To attack each other, to envy and criticize any initiative, work, and recognition of others, and to not support and make known the sacrifice of others, turns us away from that dialogue with the regime that — in some moment — we will have to have by sitting down at the table of political negotiations for a better and democratic Cuba.

When we understand and assume that all of us are no more than grains of sand dissolved on that beautiful beach of our dreams, then we will understand that only if we remain joined and united will we be capable of constructing the wall that can support the calamities that totalitarianism still strikes us with and makes us suffer.

A political conscience, a soul like José Martí, and a respective dose of humility will be the only formula that makes us visible and respectable before the Regime of the Castro dynasty. Otherwise, let’s prepare to continue with the tyranny for half a century more.

We pray to God that He grants us the wisdom to form a national conscience that summons us to political unity, while we maintain and respect individual paths and objectives to accomplish the CHANGE that we all yearn for.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. May 2014.

Please follow the link and sign the petition to have Amnesty International declare the Cuban dissident Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by Regina Anavy

30 June 2014

Remnants of History: Cubans in the Independence of the United States / Angel Santiesteban

Many Cubans are unaware, although living in the United States, that we were participants in the independence of the Thirteen American Colonies.

When in 1776 the conditions were given for the confrontation with England, commercial relations between Cuban and the North had already reached a mutual development and interest, independent of their cities. In 1764, England cut off commerce with the Spanish and French Antilles which affected thirty distilleries that produced the coveted “Anitillean Rum.”  This was one of the reasons for the separatist movement, recognized by John Adams, second president of the United States.

After that event, Havana became a supplier for the independence army.  A commercial fleet was in charge of bringing resources while in Havana shipyards and arsenals American ships were repaired and mounted with cannon.

Part of the rebel force was made up of Cuban Creoles and brown and moreno battallions. On the Pensacola Site, April of 1781, the Havana forces that had arrived as reinforcement were the first to enter the city.

In revenge, England attacked Havana, attempting another capture like that of 1762 but — this time — they found different circumstances. Twenty years later, the defenses were impregnable and their forces were strategically positioned. The harassed Admiral Rodney, then, beat a retreat. The Cuban forces continued their contribution to the American cause and managed to evict the English from control of the Mississippi River, guaranteeing the provisioning of the rebels through that route.

One of the great moments of Cuban collaboration for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies was the delivery — to aid General George Washington when he was without resources — by the native Cuban general and first Creole named governor of the Island, Juan Manuel Cagigal y Monserrat, of his loyal collaborator, intimate friend and personal aide — the Venezuelan Francisco de Miranda — to meet with Washington.

On his return, they gathered resources through public fundraising and jewelry donations by Havana ladies. Thanks to that contribution, Washington began the attack against the troops of British General Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia. After intense fighting, he achieved the surrender of the English.

Particularly, Havanans had the opportunity to clear their honor after the loss of The Havana, taken by the English in 1762. With their contribution to the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, Cuban natives fought for the first time to liberate another country.

Thereafter, America began to be the largest trading partner of the archipelago and the second home.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  June 2014.

Follow the link to sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Cuban dissident Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by mlk.
4 July 2014

I Would Not Accept Trading My Freedom For That of the Spies / Angel Santiesteban

I hope that President Obama does not have the card up his sleeve to exchange Alan Gross for the three spies who are fulfilling their sentences in the United States. The dictatorship is aiming for that to happen. We all know – by the actions of more than a half-century of totalitarianism – that the régime survives on media circuses, the most remembered of them being the one that concerned the child Elian.

The latest theme that they have chosen was that of the “ZunZuneo”, which sought to raise dust in front of the calamities and the strict censorship in a country that is sinking but — incredibly — without even touching bottom, precisely, thanks to those life with those who manipulate the media of the Fourth Estate.

Fidel Castro, Champion of Disinformation

The Castro brothers, wise in foreign policy in terms of deception, blackmail and economic vampirism, understood – ever since the trial against began in Miami of the agents of Cuban Security – that they would have a cause, a slogan and entertainment for a while. Fidel Castro, invariably, has been the champion of disinformation, always making a defeat seem like a victory; that is what he has been doing since he failed in the attack on the Moncada Barracks.

Since his last lights and years in Government, he planned this blackmail of the United States. He tried also with the imprisonment of 75 dissidents, which later was called the “Black Spring” and paid a high price for it with the attitude taken by the European Community and its “Common Position”.

Alan Gross, hunted rabbit

Cuban State Security waited a long time for an opportunity to seize an American spy who had no diplomatic rank, and seeing that it was not going to happen, manufactured one, as suits its political ability.

The Obama government has not recognized the contractor Alan Gross as a spy for his country, although, on humanitarian grounds such as his age and state of health, it has asked Havana to release him.

Of course, Cuba has played all the cards, because if their prey were to die for whatever reasons, it would create a conflict of major proportions. But the Castros needed a victory to result, especially if it concerns their historic enemy, and so, winding the watch of their power and extending it for a while longer.

To top it off, as if it had to do with cattle, and seeing that a single hostage is not enough incentive, the political police has seen fit to apprehend four residents of Miami on serious allegations of terrorism, as a desperate gesture to undermine influences and press for the exchange.

Media campaigns that are bleeding us dry

One day it will be known the economic amount the media campaigns of Fidel Castro cost, but only the campaigns of the child Elian and the Five Spies have deeply bled the Cuban economy.

To maintain committees in dozens of countries, and elderly people paid at the service of the political police of the Island, they constitute an army that not even a prosperous state would be able to afford.

The paid publications in newspapers of great importance, the billboards along the highways — even in Miami itself — the payment for lawyers and constant travel of relatives around the globe, are only some of the costs of the infinite list that the Cuban citizen pays.

An exchange would be a setback for the United States

If President Obama, in the two years remaining to him, exchanges the spies for a maligned civilian, it would harm the Cuban vote, so important in Florida, and would lose that place for the candidate of his party.

In addition, Hillary Clinton just acknowledged — in her book of memoirs — that “she advised Obama to ease the embargo”, by which it can be inferred that she is willing to exchange them, which would be a major setback for the United States in terms of its position in defense of human rights in the Island, even more so, because these spies are related to bloody deeds — such as the shooting down of the small plane of the “Brothers to the Rescue” (Hermanos al Rescate) — and it would be a Pyrrhic victory with regard to policy, for their inhuman actions.

They should be incarcerated and with long sentences – the three who are left — should it be exclusively pride of Fidel Castro, who did not hesitate to expose his men in “enemy” territory. It was he who slaughtered and betrayed them.

An exchange would stain Gross

If the U.S. Government has maintained until today that Gross is not an agent, exchanging him would be a deadly act, first, because it would be recognizing him as such, after several years of ordeal as a hostage; second, it would be to accept that they have sacrificed it for nothing, because they could have exchanged him from the beginning; by the way, it would strengthen the Cuban dictatorship, and would weaken the effort for human rights that the American administrations have pursued for decades.

And lastly, by carrying out an exchange, it would pass into history as an act of cowardice by, a high cost that perhaps he is not willing to pay. To exchange a civilian for spies sentenced because of acts of blood, is to muddy Alan Gross, As the US President, maybe he is willing to pay that price, not exactly as a fighter for liberty, which does not at all have to do with the exchange of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo, as a result of the war against Taliban extremists.

In my case in particular, as a civilian, artist and civil rights activist, I would prefer to die in Cuban jails before being so stained by history, by the simple and reasonable fact that I am innocent, as corroborated by my evidence, as should be Alan Gross, as has government has said so far.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. June 2014.

7 July 2014

Response to my Blog Readers / Angel Santiesteban

Messages come to my blog mail, some elegant with congratulations for “my upright position” before the dictatorship; others, interested in my health, like this one that I answer in which they ask questions because they don’t understand why I’m in prison, then recognize that sometimes there are contradictions. And of course, this happens so much that I thought I needed to answer. With the most possible brevity, I’ll try to answer many questions in one single answer: this post.

Everything that is sanctioned in Cuba with a maximum sentence of five years is recognized as a “minimum severity” conviction. There are three types of sentences: “maximum”, “medium” and “minimal severity”. As my punishment was for five years, according to the present laws for prisoners condemned for “minimal severity”, they had to place me in a settlement.

The prisoners of “prioritized” character (meaning the most dangerous, condemned for murder, trafficking of people or drugs, economic crimes, rape, pederasty, etc.) are always sent to prisons.

But those like myself with a sentence of “minimum security” and furthermore, with a first offense, are transfered to a camp or a settlement, which is the same thing but with the difference that the second group contains fewer inmates. For example, if in a camp you can have little more than 100 prisoners, in the settlements (like the one I am in, in Lawton) they can only crowd together around some 20 inmates.

When they transfered me on April 9, 2013, from the camp of La Lima to Prison 15-80, the truth was that they were trying to hide me from that group of international journalists, and for that reason, unjustly, they changed my penitentiary regimen from minimum severity to medium severity. They held me there until August 2, the date when they brought me to this place: a settlement.

Once you are in the camp you are confined for the first three months. As indicated in the penal code, the prisoner has a right to a pass of 72 hours every 70 days. In the camp of La Lima, they transfered me at two months, one month before what could have been my first pass.

After arriving at the present Lawton settlement, they gave me a pass at the beginning of October. But in that release, according to the dictate of my principles, I met with the dissidents Antonio Rodiles and Jose Daniel Ferrer, among others, and I suppose that this was the reason, a fair decision, that they took away my pass authorizations, although it’s another one of their flagrant violations.

But they are so many and they have continued for so long, that it’s not worth the bother to complain, and up to this date, they have denied me a pass on five occasions.

Since the last year, exactly on July 4, 2013, the Petition for Review of my case was presented to the Minister of Justice. There they archived said petition for six months. Later they communicated that they did it for lack of a paper that the lawyer did not send.

She returned again to present the Review, and after some months, they answered that the court did not find similarity between the number of case 444/12 and my name. My lawyer returned to meet with the corresponding officials and showed them the papers that corroborated that there was no mistake, and then they recognized it.

All the times that I called this department, they assured me that they were doing what they could, and in their tone of voice, I didn’t suspect pressure on the part of State Security.

But once they told me, almost one year later, that they found the file in their offices; finally now the tone was abrupt and not friendly, and the experience that I had (forcibly), of recognizing when someone is afraid or pressured, made me intuit that this tone signaled the subsequent proceeding with my case.

Knowing their methods, I dare say that now the political police reported to this department and exposed the rules of the game. This is nothing new: It’s always been them, the omnipresent and omnipotent State Security.

First, they were the ones who decided to start the accusations against me. Later, they imposed a bond on me. After that, they sanctioned me through a manipulated trial, and, finally, they sent me to prison as a punishment for thinking differently. Now they are busy trying to detain me.

I don’t expect justice from that review. They, the judges, prosecutors and the rest of the officials who are busy imposing the law, do not govern themselves, just as no other institution of the country is auto-governing.

It’s not for pleasure that we live in a totalitarian regime. I only have accepted doing all these negotiations using the existing official channels to demonstrate clearly that I live in an inhuman and all-powerful system, which mocks the legal and judicial norms established internationally in order to truly defend the integrity of citizens.

I hope that the people who are interested in me feel that I have answered their questions. However, I take the time to insist, always, that the intentions of concern be honest. Thank you very much.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement, June 2014.

Please sign the petition to have Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by Regina Anavy

28 June 2014

Opportunistic Foreigners Who Suck the Dictatorship’s Tit: Alessandra Riccio, the Most Castroite of All the Neapolitans

Alessandra Riccio, a Neapolitan who resides in Cuba, knew how to live, like so many leftist foreigners, from the benefits that the totalitarian regime offered them. I don’t know if she came to be one more of the secret collaborators of State Security, captured by Commander Manuel Pineiro “Red Beard,” of course, dead in suspicious circumstances at a time when that death was very convenient for the Castro brothers, because with his secrets as Fidel’s private scribe he could sink them before international justice.

What is certain is that the lady in question has written a book about her memories of Cuba, at least those that she can or they permit her to tell, because if she tells some others she would be catalogued as a traitor by those who helped her out for so many years on the island.

Without seeing the book — really among the list of texts that I need to read, I don’t plan to give it space — I am sure that she did not tell, logical with her usual lack of honesty, that when she was a juror of the story genre in the “Casa de las Americas” prize in 1992, together with the Cuban and great writer Abilio Estevez, and the fabulous Argentine writer Luisa Valenzuela, State Security prohibited them from awarding my book “South: Latitude 13,” because of the heartbreaking stories of the internationalist Cubans in Africa.

She will not tell that they, as jurors, gave into those “extraliterary” demands because, according to Abilio, the political police officials told them that if they gave me they prize they would do me much harm. Coincidentally, an aide to Riccio told me that a little later she left Cuba disappointed and hurt for having seen herself “obliged to commit such injustice;” so much so, according to what they told me, that she had denied meeting me because of the shame that she felt because of her actions.

Abilio and Valnezuela, on the contrary, did decide to confront their guilt and tell me what happened. The first one explained to me what happened; then he did it with others, above all several years later on a trip to the Dominican Republic, when he told that shameful incident to several colleagues and editors, who corroborated their pain and shame because of that literary assassination.

For her part, on meeting me, Luisa Valenzuela was surprised by how young I was (I remember that she exclaimed that I was the same age as her daughter), and immediately proposed to take me to Argentina, a gesture that I appreciated although I refused.

For further embarrassment, last year, at the beginning of my incarceration, Riccio appears in a grisly list of “women against violence,” supporting the government’s injustice which sentenced me without evidence, in a biased trial where nothing that my lawyer did to demonstrate my innocence with five witnesses, videos, and documentary proof, which Riccio could have easily consulted on the internet, did any good.

But as in old times from the already mentioned Commander Red Beard, she prefers to attend swiftly to the call of the tyrant to shape her signature, as if it were not enough already to shoulder the weight of the shame of that other literary injustice that she had committed against my person and my literary career.

Now nostalgia has made her write a book remembering the authorized part that she can narrate, and the newspaper Granma has gotten a photo and a report about her love for Cuba (although I would dare to correct and change Cuba for dictatorship).  Do not worry, Riccio, your role as bootlicker has suited you well, and the tyrant rewards you.

Congratulations!

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  May 2014.

Follow the link to sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Cuban dissident Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by mlk.

2 July 2014

Another Day Without His Children / Angel Santiesteban

Angel saying goodbye to his son in the police car taking him to prison

Today is the second Father’s Day that two teenagers will spend without their dad, like many; they will throw him a kiss through the bars of the Lawton prison settlement, if the strict vigilance that the dictator dedicated to Angel Santiesteban doesn’t prevent it.

Three guards and some officials, just for him, watch him constantly. This “common inmate” must be very important to make the Cuban people pay for such “guarding.” Every official costs more than a thousand pesos, and there are three trios taking it in turn over 24 hours, generation a cost of more than seven thousand pesos a month, plus the gasoline for their transportation, and that of the bosses who come daily to check in person how the guarding of Angel is going.

Also today, there are many dads who will miss the warm kiss of their children, from the capricious vengeance of a dictator who violently represses and imprisons all those who fight peacefully for freedom.

Ramón Muñoz, Alan Gross, Jorge Cervantes, just to mention some of the many political prisoners of the Castro dictatorship, will, like Angel, spend another day without their children and many of them will spend the day without their parents.

Raul Castro with his family

The dictator brothers will celebrate — with their children and grandchildren — gobbling and drinking with no limits everything forbidden to Cubans, while pretending to the world to be everything they aren’t, laughing at the thousands of families separated by the distance of exile for over half a century.

The mother of his child, along with the Political Police, managed to imprison him on false charges, all of which accusations were not proven, not the guilt of her ex-husband — she never proved that anything happened — rather her own guilt was proved because a false accusation is a crime and harms the reputation of another person. But the mother of his son didn’t manage to turn her son against his father; he is as attached to him as ever. Angel will receive the kiss that his son blows him from a distance, a kiss that will deservedly caress his heart, because for Angel Father’s Day is every day, and his children show how incredibly proud they are of him.

I lost my father many years ago and the best way I can honor him is to live the ethical teachings and principles he passed on to me. I know that he — wherever he is — is proud that I am doing what I’m doing for Angel.

The Editor

Sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

15 June 2014

Reporters Without Borders Alerted To A New Black Spring in Cuba / Angel Santiesteban

 Towards a new Black Spring in Cuba?

Reporters without Borders have expressed their concern for the situation of aggression against Cuban journalists, arbitrary sentences, death threats and barriers to access registered information over the last few days. The press agency and organization for the defense of freedom of expression Hablemos Press has been the target of the hostility of the Department of State Security.

Its founder, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, was a victim of a violent aggression perpetrated by an agent of the National Revolutionary Police on June 11th in Havana.

His wife, Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez, correspondent of Hablemos Press, indicated that she is presently confined to her home without the ability to walk, having suffered an injury to her knee and a broken septum.

Four days earlier, Raul Ramirez Puig, Hablemos Press correspondent in Mayabeque province, was threatened from a vehicle whose occupants warned him that “anything” might happen to him.

The arbitrary detention of journalists is also occurring very frequently on the island. Mario Hechavarria Driggs, who is also a collaborator with the Centre of Information for Hablemos Press, was detained by agents of the Department of State Security on June 8th.

Yeander Farres Delgado, journalism student, was held for questioning while taking pictures of the Havana Capitol Building, headquarters of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. He was released five hours later.

“Despite the apparent political opening of the Castro regime, the methods used by the authorities to silence dissident journalists are every time more brutal,” said Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders. “Since the last journalist detained during the ’Black Spring’ was released, in 2011, we are witnessing a reinforcement of the repression,” he added.

Hablemos Press denounced, this past June 11, the multiple death threats they have received in the last two months. Journalist Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez received several calls to the newsroom of Hablemos Press. Later, on June 12, she was cited by Department of State Security agents, who pressed her to change the tone of the articles she posts in the information center, which displease the Castro regime.

The Cuban authorities — via the state-owned telecommunications company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) — have even blocked the mobile phones of Roberto de Jesus Guerra, Magaly Novis Otero Suarez, and their colleague Arian Guerra (they were disconnected from the island’s sole network), to prevent them from communicating with each other.

“What is happening with the right to information if Havana suppresses telephone communication at will, while the use of the Internet is so limited on the island?” asks Camille Soulier, head of the Americas division of Reporters Without Borders. “We ask the Cuban state that it reestablish without delay the telephone line of the Hablemos Press journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders also laments the detention conditions of independent journalist Juliet Michelena Diaz, held April 7 in Havana and accused initially of “threats against a neighbor in Centro Habana” and later of “attempt” (the charges against her changed within a week). Her trial is still pending.

Also imprisoned is Yoenni de Jesus Guerra Garcia, Yayabo Press journalist, detained in October of 2013 and condemned in March of 2014 to seven years in jail. The blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats, jailed since February 28, 2013 on trumped-up charges, is among the 100 “heroes of information” published by Reporters Without Borders.

Cuba is in last place among the countries of the Americas – and 170 out of 180 countries worldwide – in Reporters Without Borders’ current “Freedom of the Press” tally. Read more here.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy. Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

16 June 2014