Author Archives: Ángel Santiesteban

The Summer when God Slept: “Novels From the Drawer” Prize Winner reprinted for International Distribution

(Photo courtesy of Neo Club Press)

I have the pleasure to announce that my work, which won the 2013 International Franz Kafka Novels From the Drawer Prize 2013, “The Summer when God Slept,” will be reprinted in coming weeks by Neo Club Editions, an independent publisher located in Miami and directed by the Cuban writer Armando Añel.

Owing to the fact that the original edition, printed in the Czech Republic, according to the rules established for the award, is destined for the Cuban reader on the island, I agreed with Neo Club Editions to make this second edition, which will consist of a greater number of copies, with the idea of reaching what I consider, in addition to Cuba, natural markets for my work: Miami and Spain. The book, furthermore, will be available in ebook format and paperback through Amazon’s channels of international distribution.

Idabell Rosales – president of Neo Club Editions – together with Armando Añel, heads this project so that those of us who are censored and excluded for political reasons from cultural promotion in Cuba can publish our works in freedom and let them be known outside our country.

Thanks to this important and necessary idea, for example, a door has been opened wider to international promotion of the poetry of the writer Rafael Vilches Proenza, a friend enraged by the repression, which already on two occasions threw out works that he had in cultural institutions in Holguín and Santa Clara. The publication of the beautiful poem, “Café Amargo” (“Bitter Coffee”), besides rescuing the work of a writer censured for not bowing to official impositions, is an act of literary justice for one of the most outstanding poets of my generation.

When there’s another reunion on the island to celebrate another Congress of UNEAC in which, same as in the previous ones, no substantial change will happen that hasn’t already been predetermined, because now it’s known that the guild of creators responds only to the interests of the State and thus is converted into a useless and deceptive organization,

I will celebrate – thanks to the project and the generosity of Armando and Idabell – that my novel will be able to be read in the rest of the world, the same as the valuable Cuban literary production of Cuban writers in exile that Neo Club Editions includes in its catalogue.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, April 2014

Have Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by Regina Anavy
11 April 2014

UNEAC Complicit In Its Silence / Angel Santiesteban

Previously I have said that in the circus exercise called court, which I attended with the sentence already dictated by State Security, as I was made to know long before by one of their henchmen, a fact that I made known publicly — and which the judges in the First Chamber of Crimes Against State Security executed, in their special headquarters for notorious crimes on Carmen and Juan Delgado, when it was supposed that my crime was common — officials of the Cuban Artists and Writers Union (UNEAC) attended, sent by their president Miguel Barnet to watch the show, like poet Alex Pausides, accompanied by the legal official, who said that to his understanding what the prosecution could present against me was smoke, like the report of that handwriting expert who said that the height and slant of my handwriting made me guilty.

At the exit, the poet and Communist Party member Alex Pausides as well as the legal official, said that I would be absolved given that what was presented, and according to what was exposed in the oral ceremony, I could not be judged, especially when I presented five witnesses who demolished those accusations.

Then, when they found me guilty, my lawyer went to UNEAC and left all the documents that corroborated my innocence and that they requested for presentation to Miguel Barnet, but we never received an answer, they kept silent.

Of course, I am not naive, I never expected a reaction from UNEAC, I always knew what they would do, but above all, what they would not do, and they have fulfilled my predictions.  I understood that they would take that posture because I believe in history like a religion, and I knew that history would yield that despicable stance. Their silence is their shamelessness.  And that shamelessness is now written in our history.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  April 2014.

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

Translated by mlk.
16 April 2014

Angel Santiesteban’s Work Again Recognized in France

The dictator Raul Castro continues stubbornly to make the world believe that he’s bringing to Cuba an opening that in reality doesn’t exist. He continues being the same dictator as always, violating the rights of all Cubans, submitting them to misery, censoring the press, harassing, beating and imprisoning peaceful opponents.

Angel Santiesteban, unjustly imprisoned, has completed one year after a rigged trial for some crimes that his ex-wife and mother of his son invented together with the political police. They sought to silence his critical voice against the dictatorship, but they have not succeeded. No punishment, beatings or prison itself has made a dent in him.

And by keeping him locked up, the dictator hasn’t prevented his literature from continuing to be recognized in the world, which condemns the injustice against him.

Again in France, this time in Marseille, his book of stories, “Laura in Havana”, published in 2012 by L’Atinoir, will be presented before the public.

Raul Castro continues violating his own law, taking away Angel’s passes that he is supposed to get every sixty days. It doesn’t matter to Angel, because when his companions go to visit their families, he takes even more advantage of the time and the calm to continue writing.

The Editor

A meeting

We invite you to a convivial meeting with Jacques Aubergy and Rasky Beldjoudi, Saturday, April 12, at 5:00 p.m. at the Maison Pour Tous de la Belle de Mai (House For All of the Belle of May).

 

Jacques Aubergy is a translator, bookseller and publisher. His publishing house, L’Atinoir, publishes authors of noir fiction and Latin American writers.

He will speak to us of his trade, how he chooses his books, and will make us know intimately and with passion some marvels of Latin American literature chosen by him.

He will also present the book, “Laura in Havana,” a collection of ten short stories by Angel Santiesteban-Prats, published by Atinoir.

Angel Santiesteban Prats is one of the greatest Cuban authors, presently in prison after having openly criticized his country’s system. His imprisonment has generated strong support from Reporters Without Borders and the world-wide community of bloggers.

An enthralling book

“The Eleventh Commandment” is a book by Rasky Beldjoudi, a resident of the Belle de Mai.

The name Rasky Beldjoudi will surely mean nothing in particlar to you. You have never noticed him, although it’s very probable that you have already seen him on Caffo Square or perhaps, one day, sitting next to you on bus 32.

However, Rasky is impressive, muscular, and his Belgian accent with a Kabyle (Berber) accent leaves no one indifferent. Since his infancy, Rasky has accumulated difficulties. From scholastic failures to precarious employment, he knew years of struggle and the hell of drugs.

In spite of an uneven road and a life story that is sometimes not very glorious, he succeeded in rising above the circumstances of his life and has just published “The Eleventh Commandment”: an enthralling autobiography, written in a remarkable style, full of humanity, and unbelievably touching.

Nicolás ROMAN BORRE

Saturday, April 12 at 5:00 p.m.

Maison Pour Tous de la Belle de Mai

6 Blvd. Boyer, 13003 Marseille

Free admission

Event organized by Brouettes & Compagnie, the association CIN-CO and the Maison Pour Tous de la Belle de Mai.

Translated by Regina Anavy
4 April 2014

An Opportune Difference Between Cuba and Venezuela / Angel Santiesteban

Thanks to the god of the communication media, in Venezuela the national and foreign TV hasn’t been sold to Chavismo, and they report on events immediately, without concern for reprisals.

In Cuba we face another reality. The foreign broadcasters (independent national stations don’t exist), rarely look behind the news that would harm the government, that would immediately put an end to the long vacations they take in the archipelago living in five-star hotels.

The times I accompanied the Ladies in White, I never saw a TV reporter, knowing that in some way, their being there would protect them from the arrests and abuse. If they did their duty, the images of our events would speak for themselves, and the activists would risk more. But in most cases, we suffer the beatings and they arrest us without leaving any witnesses to defend us, save those times when the opposition itself can record it and upload it to the Internet.

Before entering prison, the only media based in the island that came to me was the Associated Press (AP) via Andrea Rodríguez, their correspondent. All the opposition advised me not to grant her an interview, branded her as a Cuban security agent, used to misrepresent the evidence, and to manipulate the news to favor the communist government and harm the opposition.

But I agreed anyway because I am someone who has nothing to hide and does not avoid talking, and I fell into the trap. The news was delivered my version amputated in a ghost article, obviously official, of one of those writers who then signed the letters against me in Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC). The author, who also refused to give her name and the reporter respected that — put my words in doubt and as much as possible gave the official version.

Following that, I had an exchange with the reporter and told her I understood she was hardly ethical if she gave my testimony with my name, and then sought people who doubted my word and refused to give theirs, staying in the shade, because that position was not transparent.

Later I learned that this “journalist” is married to a former official from the political police. It doesn’t matter how far certain commentaries goe if they lack impartiality.

The opposition lacks media coverage before the world in terms of real and direct news, and this marks the great different with the rest of the countries which, in recent years, have had large social movements.

We need journalists to accompany us in this war against the dictatorship.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. March 2014

Please sign the petition to Amnesty International here.

31 March 2014

Serious Denunciations Before the IACHR: Human Rights Situation of Journalists in Cuba. The Santiesteban Case

The lawyer, Veizant Boloy, and the journalists Roberto de Jesús Guerra and Julio Aliaga have presented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights denunciations about the permanent violations of human rights of the independent journalists, and explained how the persecution of information professionals operates. They have shown the Commission the video of the detention of Angel Santiesteban on November 8, 2012.

Cuban journalists reported before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that they continue being persecuted in Cuba. 

March 25, 2014

Washington, March 25 (EFE). Two Cuban journalists and a Cuban lawyer reported today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that independent reporters “continue suffering persecution” in Cuba.

They explained in a hearing on the subject about the situation of freedom of expression and the rights of journalists on the island, organized by the IACHR, an autonomous entity of the Organization of American States (OEA), at which no representative of Raúl Castro’s government turned up.

“The repression continues against the journalists, the opposition and citizens who wish to express themselves freely,” said the journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, of the agency Hablemos Press, who described himself to the IACHR as an ex-political prisoner.

Guerra Pérez testified that in March, four journalists were detained while they were performing their work on the island, and he added that in 2013 the workers in his agency were arrested more than 70 times and that they had their material confiscated on repeated occasions.

The lawyer Veizant Boloy González, from the center of legal information, Cubalex, explained that Cuban journalists are  submitted to censorship, incarceration, surveillance and requisition of material.

“The authorities continue persecuting independent journalists,” affirmed Boloy.

“Although the Cuban state projects an image of economic and political opening, it doesn’t take weighty measures to promote freedom of expression. The medium of diffusion of information continues being in the power of the State. The citizens continue without participating in the political life of the country, and the government doesn’t take this into account,” added Boloy.

Another journalist, Julio Aliaga, told how he had been detained on several occasions, and he pointed out that in Cuba the provinces are “dark zones” as far as journalistic coverage is concerned, owing to the fact that the international media is centered in Havana.

Aliago requested of the Castro regime that they develop a law that establishes freedom of expression and abolishes the crimes in the penal code that affect this right, and the law known as the “gag” law, as well as modify the law of association.

Furthermore, the journalist appealed to the IACHR that it develop a report on the situation of freedom of expression in Cuba and that it invite the government to participate in the inter-American system of human rights.

The constituents of the IACHR regretted the absence of representatives of the Cuban executive and recalled that the Commission always invites the State and notifies it of all the denunciations.

Participants: Hablemos Press Center of Information (CIPRESS)/CUBALEX

State of Cuba

Please sign the petition to have Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Translated by Regina Anavy

27 March 2014

UNEAC: A VIII Congress Like the Previous / Angel Santiesteban

If Fidel and Raul Castro should be delegates to the UNEAC Congress again, we can predict right now that it will be a copy of the previous, which, viewed from a distance, did not achieve any social scope, saving to mitigating development, destroying illusions and win the trust of power with opportunistic statements.

All those of us from the base who have participated in these events, know that the presidents of the associations, not to mention of UNEAC and is vice-president, are handpicked according to political trust. The vote of the artists don’t decide, but their personalities are malleable.

I remember a ballot count when the now-deceased Guillermo Vidal–a great writer from Las Tunas–obtained a huge triumph in the votes, but he was not invited to join the Congress because his literature and posture were critical.

The system of elections of the UNEAC is similar to that of the president of the nation; a total fraud.

The creator’s guild does not answer to its members but to the State. It’s just a detail that makes an organization useless and falacious.

Dreaming of a Pen Club to work for the benefit of its members, will be the carrot of Cuban writers.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. March 2013

To sign the petition please follow the link, asking Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

7 March 2014

S.O.S. The Soldiers Are Suffocating Us / Angel Santiesteban

A daring prisoner has revealed to me the intention of high-ranking soldiers to become my enemies. To accomplish this they took away a pass, the most sacred thing for them; then they reduced even more the precarious nutrition. The ration of chicken, which is provided two times a month, has been reduced to one sole occurrence, and what before could be divided by two persons now is shared among three. The acid picadillo has been substituted for the main dish.

The chiefs of the Direction of Prisons, seeing that their pressure has not been effective, have advanced by four hours the schedule for returning from the pass. Before it was at six in the evening; now they stipulated that it be at two. Another gesture of manipulation has been that of the four hours granted for time on the telephone so prisoners can communicate with their families, they have left only one.

The day of access to the pass, they assign work that could be done the following day, with the sole purpose of annoying the prisoners, to increase the ill will against me, since, according to Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo, the head of the penal prosecution, I don’t comply with the schedule and discipline established because the inmates allow me to do it. He asked that they confront me, that they demand I be “re-educated,” so that, once they succeed, they will have privileges returned to them.

Today, payday, their salaries, gained according to contract, have been reduced; that is to say, they can calculate the amount they earned in the month and thus the salary they are owed. However, without explanation, they have been fleeced in the worst style of highway robbery.

I can’t predict how long the prisoners will support this subjugation of their “rights,” in a country where rights don’t exist, especially if people are detained in penitentiaries, where they are persecuted and receive the most inhuman treatment, where the blackmail of the officials is constant, since they control the prisoners’ lives and destinies. Tomorrow, for example, with a single movement of their lips, they can order that those prisoners wake up in Santa Clara, Camaguey or Santiago de Cuba, and thus be removed from their families.

I continue writing my literature in this sabbatical year that the dictatorship has granted me, and I remain standing in the struggle for human rights for all Cubans.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. March 2014.

Editor’s Note: The dictatorship continues to systematically violate the rights of Angel Santiesteban, in breach of their own laws. By law he should get a pass for 72 hours every 70 days, in agreement with the prison regimen to which he is submitted. From the second of August 2013 until now, they have “granted” him one single pass at the end of September. That week the rest of the prisoners “enjoyed” a pass of six days, and he was returned to remain alone with the jailers. These punishments that they impose on him don’t scare him. They should realize by now that the more they try to harm him, the more they strengthen him, and they are even collaborating with Cuban literature, which has – for a year – one of the great talents working without pause.

To sign the petition to have Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience, please follow the link.

Translated by Regina Anavy

19 March 2014

Signatories Forever, Unredeemed Brownnosers / Angel Santiesteban

The signatures of those artists from the unforgettable book open at UNEAC headquarters match the political calls of the dictatorship to support the execution of minors who tried to emigrate to the United States by hijacking the boat across the bay to the ultramarine village of Regla. Although the passengers declared that they didn’t hurt anyone, they were deceived. They promised them that if they surrendered, nothing would happen. But the next day they were executed after a summary trial.

After that event and the logical international condemnation that it aroused, they looked for accomplices, people who would “give rope,” and just as in the film, “The Man Maisinicu,” they involved more people, besmirching their hands with manure and blood, a recurring combination of a totalitarian regime.

Now these intellectuals are called to sign for a government that assassinates its students. Neither does the fact of protesting violently, if it’s true, justify annihilation. The sad thing is that most of these signatories recognize that it’s an error of the Venezuelan government, in the figure of Nicolas Maduro, ordering repression. Those lives have a cost, of course, and those who continue signing from fear or for personal benefit will be recognized by history as being brownnosers, sycophants of the omnipotent power of the Castro brothers.

Génesis Carmona, estudiante y modelo del estado Carabobo, fue asesinada por un disparo  en la cabeza durante una manifestación opositora

Genesis Carmona, a student and model from Carabobo state, was killed by a shot in the head during an opposition demonstration.

For everyone a little piece of history touches us, and consequently we gain merit or demerit.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, March 2014

Please follow the link and sign the petition to have Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

 Translated by Regina Anavy

S.O.S.: They Continue Harassing Angel Santiesteban in Prison / Angel Santiesteban

My incarceration is not enough for the dictatorship

At dawn on last March 22, we prisoners, once again, were awakened by henchmen’s boots for another search procedure.  Several officers, directed again by Major Cobas, ousted us from the barracks with the intention of distancing us from our belongings. I objected and asked to remain present while they inspected my property which Cobas himself refused. I warned that I was not responsible for what they might find in my absence. The officer persisted in moving me away.

As has always happened, I was the only one of interest although they searched the rest. The majority gathered around my bed searching among books, reading each paper of the many that I posses, and setting aside those they found “interesting,” always news that brings me national and international reality and that generally is far away and different from that of government censors and authorized in their official media. They also read the back covers of the books in order to practice the look of the political police, and as on other occasions, to take them.

In the end, they only confiscated personal documents, printed news, two CDs, one with the images of the false “witness” that the Prosecution prepared against me in complicity with the police and the complainant when they came to demand 54 years in jail for me and later, thanks to those images, they had to desist.  They also took another CD with the sad documentary “Gusanos” which is about the fascist action of the government against State of Sats (Estado de Sats). I suppose that if those officers had the least bit of embarrassment and humanity, they would feel shame.

The alarming thing is that they showed me an instrument that looked like a screwdriver which can be used as a punch and which they claimed to have found within a dark suitcase that I possess. I assured that it did not belong to me, and the officer who said he found it blatantly lied and claimed it was true. A prisoner interrupted to claim that it was his property because he was trying it as a shoemaker’s needle, and he sewed work boots with it; then they left laughing with absolute cynicism.

It is no secret that they are searching desperately to implicate me even more and add some crime in order again, as on prior occasions, to erase the five year maximum sentence as stipulated by the Penal Code. Or a tangible vengeance for the “Second Open Letter to Raul Castro,” which I dedicated this past February 28 on completing a “Year of Unjust Incarceration.”

As always, they are plotting something, and also as always, they will not find in me even an iota of giving in to their constant torture for the “Crime” of thinking “DIFFERENTLY.”

Angle Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  March 2014.

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

Translated by mlk.

The Garden of Congratulations / Angel Santiesteban

Interpreting the triptych “The Garden of Delights,” by El Bosco, we can find, ironically speaking, a comparison with the winner of the Frank Kafka 2012 award, “Long is the Night,” by Cuban writer Frank Correa, who delights in telling stories, just like emptying oil paint onto the palette and passing the brush through it so that the paint moves, becomes confused, converting itself into a range of unimaginable colors for the painter himself, who accepts it as a revelation under discovery.

Correa, through his narration, invites us on a journey to discover alongside him impoverished Cuban society. Like a mannequin, he undresses the social reality of a country inhabited by ghosts. His characters live a constant day-to-day agony, a balancing act sensation on the razor’s edge that is tipped by the tiniest of bad things. With fresh and colloquial reading, his more than two hundred pages are read. He plays with ironies, and in moments–like the flash of a camera–the humor hidden in the circumstance appears, an intrinsic part of Cuban idiosyncrasy.

Thanks to the generosity of the organizations of the “International Franz Kafka Prize of Novels from the Drawer” competition, held in the Czech Republic, it was avoided, as the name indicates–novels from the drawer–that this work remains in the dark oblivion of an artist, that it clamors and struggles, for rights of its own, a space in national literature.

The fiction of the novel culminates with my most absolute reality: prison. His character and I intertwine, between fable and reality, invention and nature; our silhouettes cross and skip times, with that protest of wanting to awaken and abandon the dangers of prison, and–with much to write and to invent itself another space–always finish with the caning of the guards against the fence, yelling TO SLEEP!

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. March 2014

To sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience, follow the link.

Translated by LW
17 March 2014