Category Archives: Ángel Santiesteban

Leopoldo Lopez and Angel Santiesteban: Two Lives and One Destiny

If we paused to observe Leopoldo Lopez and Angel Santiesteban-Prats for one moment, we see two very different physical types. One is very slim, the other sturdy. One is a lawyer, the other a writer. One is Venezuelan, the other Cuban; both are the father of a girl and a boy. Both share the same gift: a great charisma accompanied by enormous generosity, and a desire to change the difficult reality of their countries: Leopoldo, from his active political participation, and Angel, through his civic opinion passed through his books and writings, with the cutting edge of the truthful word.

Beyond the similarities and differences, they appear to be cut from the same cloth. It is hard to find such men with such composure to dare tell two dictators — Cuban and Venezuelan — calling things clearly by their name and speaking directly, without euphemisms. Angel and Leopoldo did this and they continue to do it. For this reason, they both also share the terrible situation of being political prisoners of these two regimes brought together by the greed and evil of their rulers.

This week, Leopoldo has been a victim of a “violent requisition,” the same way that Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano, opposition mayors dismissed and imprisoned for designs of political power, using an “armed wing”: a justice that is corrupt and sold.

When we read the news about what is going on in Venezuela, we have to assure ourselves that we are reading news about Venezuela because, really, it appears copied from the news that independent journalists bring us in Cuba.

This week, Angel Santiesteban has been transferred in an illegal manner from the prison he had been in, a military facility in Lawton, Havana. Today is the sixth day of anguish and desperation without having received any news. This week we have also heard about how violence against those in the Venezuelan opposition is intensifying and how, not being satisfied with locking them up, the authorities enjoy punishing them with the same sadism of the Castro regime.

Angel already expressed his solidarity with Leopoldo Lopez in an open letter; today, Angel’s whereabouts remain unknown and isolated, probably tortured, and is oblivious to what is happening right now with Leopoldo. However, knowing full well Angel’s sentiments, from here we send all his solidarity in his name and in my own name, because I know that in the difficult moment he is going through, this is what he would have written in a new post.

And of course, our deepest affection to Lilian Tintori and her children. She, like the dignified Ladies in White of Cuba, exalts the word love.

I share here the brave letter that Leopoldo sent to his compatriots. In this letter one can see how – same as in the case of Angel – Maduro’s regime actually ends up strengthening Leopoldo. Without a doubt, as long as men like this exist, the liberty and peace of Venezuela and Cuba will arrive soon.

The Editor

Letter from Leopoldo Lopex Mendoza: I Accuse the Venezuelan Dictatorship

I have been politically persecuted under the “Chavista” regime for more than ten years. There have been more than 20 proceedings, political trials, homicide attempts dully reported and never resolved, moral assassination on behalf of the means of communication of the State and two political disqualifications, despite obtaining a favorable sentencing from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the violation of my rights and in defense of my political participation.

For over a year, beginning in January of 2013, Nicolas Maduro publicly expressed, on national radio and television channels, his desire to put me in prison for the opinions issued against his government. It was in this context of permanent persecution and explicit threats made by Maduro that an order for my arrest was made on February 12 of this year.

I am in prison for denouncing the Venezuelan state as corrupt, inefficient, repressive, and anti-democratic. I am in prison for denouncing in a loud voice that in Venezuela there is no democracy, that public authority has been kidnapped by a corrupt elite, inefficient and anti-democratic, responsible for the serious social, economic, and political crisis that all Venezuelans suffer from today.

I am in prison for having denounced that in Venezuela we live in a dictatorship.

I am in prison for having proposed a profound change that can occur by replacing those that are in charge of all public authorities. I am in prison for having solicited the resignation or replacement of Nicolas Maduro as President of Venezuela through constitutional means.

I am in prison for having made a call to the Venezuelan people to go out to the streets to protest, making use of our historic and constitutional right of protest, until obtaining a political change that would guarantee peace, well-being, and progress for all Venezuelans.

I am in prison for having put forth ideas, opinions, and proposals that today a majority of Venezuelans share, who since their indignation have asked for a profound change that will set the nation on the right path.

I am physically in prison, they keep me isolated and with severe restrictions on visitors, but now or never will they be able to imprison my absolute conviction that we have the right and the duty to struggle to obtain democracy and liberty for Venezuela.

Thank God that I am not alone in these ideas, we are millions, we are in the majority, those of us who are willing to struggle for a change toward democracy. They might be able to imprison me and thousands more but will never be able to imprison the spirit of struggle that, with the young people at the vanguard, today runs through the streets of the towns, neighborhoods, and cities throughout the country.

Venezuela has already decided to change, therefore, my imprisonment and that of others is nothing but the face of a dictatorship that daily becomes weaker and weaker and has less popular support, that intends to stay in power by repressing, silencing critical voices, and criminalizing protest.

The accusation against me, based off of several speeches that I made between January 23 and February 12, has as it best defense the very speeches, read or seen from beginning to end, without edit or any form of manipulation. In these speeches, based on a critical analysis of the present crisis, I proposed a way out, a definitive political change, activated from the streets with nonviolent actions and embodied by a popular call to one of the four alternatives that the Constitution offers to bring about a change of government.

On January 23 we made a call to awaken our conscience, to lift the optimist spirit of the Venezuelan people, convinced that we can have a better Venezuela. A call to go out to the streets made on the anniversary of January 23, 1958, celebrated by the government and the opposition, is the date on which the Venezuelan people rose up against the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez.

On that day we had the celebration, February 2, of Popular Assemblies throughout Venezuela to discuss all of our options for overcoming the social, economic, and political crisis that we are now in.

On February 2, hundreds of gatherings were held throughout Venezuela, some big, some small, some in plazas, others in houses or  on the streets. At these gatherings, many different organizations, people, and parties with different proposals participated.

The conclusion was to commit to peaceful protests out on the streets for a better country, choosing February 12 as the date on which we would organize our first protest.

In that opportunity I said: “These struggles, sisters, brothers, have to have a clear direction and methodology based on nonviolence. Nonviolence has been the most effective method of struggle that oppressed peoples have created. Nonviolence does not mean passivity, nonviolence does not mean to hang one’s head low, nonviolence does not mean retreat. Nonviolence is to not have fear, it means to challenge, nonviolence means to be out on the streets, nonviolence means having a state of conscience where we do not allow manipulation.”

On February 12, as we had summoned, thousands of people came out to the streets in all of Venezuela. In Caracas, the protest began in Plaza Venezuela. From there we marched toward the headquarters of the Public Prosecutor’s office, just as we had notified the authorities. There we protested, in peace and without violence, for more than two hours, and we then left in peace. The violent acts occurred after our departure and in those, Nicolas Maduro’s government is to be held accountable.

Certainly, what calls the most attention with respect to the narrative of the facts by the government in its indictment against me is that they completely omit the most relevant act that occurred on that day: the murder of two Venezuelan citizens, Juan Montoya and Bassil Da Costa, executed by officials of the political police of the government. The government also remains silent about the fact that since that day, 42 Venezuelans have been murdered in the street protests, that thousands have been detained and subject to trial, and that more than one hundred are still deprived of their liberty for exercising their constitutional right to protest.

In my case, I have nothing that I have to rectify in word or deed. If it is a crime to denounce corruption, inefficiency, the loss of liberties and the anti-democratic calling of those who govern, I assume my responsibility. I further declare myself responsible for having summoned the protests in the streets with the intention of going out to conquer democracy and liberty for all Venezuelans.

I am innocent from the charges that they level against me, but I do not expect anything from a justice system composed of courts, a Public Prosecutor, and an Ombudsman highly corrupted, hijacked, and manipulated by the government of Nicolas Maduro. I am, along with hundreds of companions, a political prisoner, a prisoner of conscience.

Leopoldo Lopez Mendoza, Ramo Verde Prison. Los Teques, Venezuela

For complete information about repression in Venezuela: http://www.accionporlalibertad.com

Please sign so that Amnesty International declares the Cuban dissident Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

26 July 2014

Completely dismantled, the farce against Angel Santiesteban continues in an unknown location

Angel continues being held in an unknown location, transferred illegally and without being able to communicate to his family, a few days after his son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban Rodriguez, told the truth about what happened when he was only a child. He now is a 16-year-old adolescent.

Forced and manipulated by his mother — Kenia Diley Rodriguez — and Castro’s State Security, he has told now that the objective was to harm his father and declare against him. He said that he never saw anything of what his mother said Angel had done to her, and that everything is a plot in order to punish Angel for his dissidence, and that his mother, for motives of “love,” collaborated with the Regime to lie.

It’s important to clarify that the ex-partner was the one who abandoned Angel and the two-and-a half-year-old boy, a little before she started to make up false accusations against him.

She abandoned him after deceiving him with a lover who had made promises to her that later he didn’t keep, and she, disenchanted with that lover, decided to try to win him back, something she couldn’t do, because he had already formed a stable partnership with a very well-known and beautiful Cuban actress. Kenia, disgusted and jealous, formed a new partnership with an agent of the political police, and from that moment the false accusations rained down.

Here I present a letter that Kenia Diley Rodriguez wrote to a girlfriend explaining all this; the letter, like many more other proofs of Angel’s innocence, is found in the court file, which has been available in complete form in this same blog for almost two years.

Let’s demand Angel’s immediate appearance, and let’s make Raul Castro responsible for Angel’s life and integrity, as well as that of his son, Eduardo Angel.

The Editor

Note:

1-“Ch” is “Chino” (“Chinese man”), a colloquial name that Angel Santiesteban’s family calls him.

2-“Micho” is the name of Kenia Rodriguez’ ex-lover, with whom she cheated on Angel with while they were a couple and for whom she abandoned him, leaving him the boy. When “M” (“Micho”) disappointed her by not giving her what he promised, she tried to go back with Angel.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

24 July 2014

Extremely Urgent: Angel Santiesteban Remains Missing

Angel’s whereabouts remain unknown; the authorities have not mentioned his transfer, and when his son, a minor, Eduardo Santiesteban calls the prison to obtain information they tell him that Angel “escaped.”

We demand the immediate appearance of Angel in perfect condition, the restoration of ALL of his rights, a review of his trial with all of the guarantees denied until now, and we hold Raul Castro Ruz fully responsible for Angel and his son Eduardo’s safety. We remind you that there are NO possible “accidents” and that everyone’s eyes are upon you and Angel. There is NO place for more impunity.

We will not stop denouncing what you have done and continue to do against this acclaimed writer, and we demand justice and his release.

The Editor

Angel Santiesteban is a peaceful activist who has not committed any crimes for which the Cuban political police are now condemning him.

A video in Spanish with a telephone interview of Angel’s son and others is available here.

Translated by: Marlena Papavaritis

24 July 2014

S.O.S. Imminent Transfer: Am I more dangerous than the murderers? / Angel Santiesteban

In the most total secrecy, State Security is preparing my transfer to a military unit of border guards.

In the last few days, a rumor started that now has become plausible, inasmuch as the prison authorities are waiting for my transfer in order to bring me to a Minister or a Vice-Minister of Construction who keeps convicts for “diversion of resources,” and in no way can they clash with me, fearing that I will get information from them and later divulge it in my blog.

After a prisoner escaped and managed to reach Miami, State Security ordered that the surveillance on me be strengthened, so they set up a 24-hour command post and kept every movement that I make inside the settlement under supervision.

A few minutes ago, they just ordered a welding of some bars to secure the place where they’re taking me, and the bars have to be placed in the frontier-guard unit before morning.

Evidently, they will keep me more guarded and isolated there. Another chapter begins in this journey of injustice, for my dangerous crime of thinking differently.

I reaffirm that I am stronger than the first day of imprisonment. It’s an honor that they commit these extremes against me — for exercising the craft of thinking and expressing my opposition to the dictatorial regime that has suppressed our country for more than a half-century — while they accept murderers, drug traffickers and rapists, whom they barely harass or watch, like they do in my case.

Long live Cuba, and let it be free.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, July 2014.

Follow the link to sign the petition to have Amnesty International declare Angel Santestieban-Prats a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by Regina Anavy

21 July 2014

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