Category Archives: Ángel Santiesteban

The "Hero" Who Couldn’t Find the Entrance / Angel Santiesteban

A great truth was revealed at the VIII Conference of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC, by its Spanish initials).

We have to admit when our detractors speak the truth.  There’s no other option than –for the sake of honesty– to accept how right they’ve been.  Therefore, I have to admit that, yes, “The UNEAC is the Moncada of culture”*.  It’s impossible to state it any clearer, for we know well the political, human, logistic, and leadership failures that the assault on the Moncada Barracks in 1953 symbolized, when the immature and terribly suspicious Fidel Castro stationed a select group to practice their aim in Santiago de Cuba.  With neither suitable arms  nor adequate preparations to confront the army, he sent them to a certain death.

How can intellectuals pretend not to recognize Fidel Castro’s cowardice, who — in spite of having gone to school in that city and having planned the attack — couldn’t find the entrance to the barracks, when those who had never been there were able to get behind its walls?

It is infuriating to watch that documentary where Fidel Castro, leaning on a car of that era, explains how he was unable to find the entrance, yet the cars traveling ahead and behind him managed to penetrate the garrison, whose entrance is of such a size that a blind man could find it!  But we already know that there’s nothing worse than one who doesn’t want to see what’s in front of him.

That wasn’t his only mistake.  We know that, throughout the entire struggle of the Rebel Army, he never participated in a single battle; and he advised Raul Castro to do likewise: while leading his comrades in the midst of combat, the latter would abandon the fight only to appear days later when the town square had been taken.  Fidel Castro not only couldn’t find the entrance, he was unable to follow the sounds of gunfire on that fateful morning, nor could he redirect himself towards other posts during the shootout.  On the contrary, he remained huddled, waiting for the end, and when he learned his soldiers were dead or captured, he sought shelter in a hole in order to finally turn himself in to the Catholic Church (which he never thanked for saving him), and reemerge as the hero.

Certainly, seen as a failure (the only way to comprehend this event), without a doubt, as the president of the UNEAC, Miguel Barnet, put it: “The UNEAC is the Moncada of culture”.  He’s never been more right.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Compound.  April, 2014

* Santiesteban is referring to the speech by Miguel Barnet at the opening of the VIII UNEAC Conference.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

Sign the petition so that Amnesty International will declare the Cuban dissident Ángel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

23 May 2014

Let’s Join "The Death of The Cat" in Denouncing the Castro Dictatorship at FIBABC

For my soul brother Angel Santiesteban, prisoner of Cuba for thinking differently.

For my second father, Raul Guerra, who died intoxicated with disappointment.

The Death of the Cat

Writer:  Lilo Vilaplana  Genre:  Fiction  Category:  Fiction

The Death of the Cat is much more than an exceptionally accomplished work of art by Lilo Vilaplana.  It is an unambiguous argument against the Castro dictatorship that has plagued Cuba for fifty-six years.

It deeply impacts Cubans who have lived that period, those who even if they have not lived it suffer even today the same painful reality, and the non-Cubans who are moved seeing how the Castro propaganda has fooled them also while all Cubans are prisoners of the big island jail.

Dedicated to Angel Santiesteban and Raul Guerra, it deals with a work of fiction inspired by real events, contextualized in the day after the shooting of General Ochoa but that takes great care with even the smallest details managing to recreate on a Bogota lot the miseries of one Havanan.

Details as “trifling” as to have covered the floor with a paper that mimics the tiles that populate Cuba.  And even the wretched roll that Cubans eat, many preliminary experiments were needed until obtaining what appears in the short film, seeking not to exceed the weight and to be true to what the impoverished people eat.

It is not easy to create intentionally so much destruction, poverty and neglect as the Castros have caused in over five decades.  Painstaking craftsmanship by Lilo’s team has managed to “destroy” the setting, making it so true to life that more than one person will believe that it really was filmed in Havana.

The director’s merit, and it is great, is not only artistic.  The art, it is true, has brought the short film to first level international festivals.  But it has not only shown the world Cuban talent, which is infinite and in Cuba has no possibility of being developed unless one wants to end up censored, marginalized or in prison.  The short itself, filmed in Colombia, is true testimony that in order to exist, it must have been born on another horizon where liberty reigns.  And just for this reason, the performances by Jorge Perugorria and Coralita Veloz, both residents on the island, are doubly meritorious.  You have to have a lot of guts to participate in such a film and continue living in Cuba.

The fact that The Death of the Cat is shown in the CANNES or GOYA festival, among others (KRALJEVSKI FILMSKI FESTIVAL, Serbia; FESTIVAL IBEROAMERICANO DE CORTOMETRAJES ABC.ES, Spain; FESTIVAL LATINOAMERICANO DE VIDEO ROSARIO, Argentina; PORTOBELLO FILM FESTIVAL, United Kingdom; FESTIVAL PIRIAPOLIS DE PELICULA, Uruguay; TRINIDAD + TOBAGO FILM FESTIVAL, Trinidad and Tobago), means that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world can learn the reality of Cuba, which tries to hide it at all costs, and I refer not only to the misery, but to the most terrible thing:  a people subjugated to a brutal dictatorship, for the violation of human rights is its denomination of origin.

Seeing The Death of the Cat and voting for it at FIBABC means, besides recognizing Lilo Vilaplana’s talent, an act of patriotism, because his participation in the Goya Festival will help open eyes to the reality of Cuba for a great number of people in the world who have no possibility of seeing it with their own eyes.

Certain that Angel Santiesteban would ask you to support Lilo Vilaplana by voting for The Death of the Cat if they did not have him isolated as they do, I ask it in his name.

The Editor

To see and vote for The Death of the Cat, follow the next link:

Magic Filmmaking

by Angel Santiesteban

Finally, through my son’s cell phone, on the visit he made me in recent days where they have me incarcerated, I was able to see the short film “The Death of the Cat,” by Cuban director Lilo Vilaplana, living in Colombia for more than a decade, a place where he took — besides his talent, craft, some friends and his family — the bitterness that he suffered first hand, totalitarian logic processes, and that now, as a mature creator, he feels the duty to expose, first as literature and now in film.

The traumas lived by Lilo, which he carried in his soul like a mother who travels pregnant, began to flower in that second country — Colombia — which opened its arms to his stroke of talent and effort in the productions.

After a decade of successes, now he can afford to produce these short films; the script of this particular one is based on one of the stories from the collection “A Cuban Story,” which saw light, also, after he emigrated.

Many viewers will confuse its geography and think that it was filmed in its totality in Havana, because at the beginning the character Armando is seen walking through its streets, in the great performance by Albertico Pujol, who was filmed by another colleague, at Lilo’s request, because of the impossibility of his entering Cuba.

Then the brilliant edition would be harmoniously connected with the rest filmed in Colombia, thanks to the plausible set design by excellent professionals who thought of even the most minute detail, and which helped to color the Cuban reality at the end of the eighties decade of the past century — on the eve of the officially named “Special Period” that would uncover the worst penuries ever lived by the Cuban people and that, in a snap, changed the perspectives of a nation deceived and repressed for decades.

To lend context to the story, it is worth remembering that Lilo chose the day after the execution of the Hero of the Republic of Cuba, Brigadier General Arnaldo Ochoa, a circus spectacle by the Castro brothers to entertain the people, to make them forget their hardships and resist taking to the streets in protest.

It was also a lesson for the high military command — on the other hand no less important — to remove the danger of those who had feathered their leadership, and who imitated the habits of the Castro brothers, their mentors, for those “that life was for enjoying at any cost.”

Finally, once the officers “diverted from the principles that the Revolution pursues” were punished, it was said in the official press that the complaints by the government of the United States had to be put to an end at once, complaints which accused Fidel Castro of being part of international narco-trafficking that introduced drugs into its country.

Destroying those men who could testify about the regime’s consent to the participation — and with the most notorious drug lords, like Pablo Escobar himself — they sealed an opprobrious chapter, and — as if it were little — they exterminated those who could create a seditious plan against their government and compete with brother Raul Castro for military power.

Amid this national morass, the artist that grows within Lilo is preoccupied with the little things, apparently inconsequential in the eyes of most, in order to reflect them in the art, like hunger, the need for a political transition, the loss of societal values, the separation of family, and the painful scars, exposed, in this case, in the character of Armando, who has no news of his son who launched himself to sea on a raft, a long time ago; not knowing his whereabouts, he supposes that he did not reach the Miami coast and lost his life.

The story walks the tightrope between social criticism and artistry, between melodrama and sensitivity, managing, happily, to emerge unscathed avoiding the pitfalls of trying to tell the deep suffering of each actress, actor and production team, except the young actor Camilo Vilaplana, who thanks to his parents, managed to grow up far from that social catastrophe.  In the end it manages to ward off, although it always suggests, the conviction of those responsible for the desperate reality; that judgment it leaves in the hands of the public, particularly the Cuban public.

Also without making it obvious, it awakens that unavoidable fine humor in Cubans although the worst occurs.  The cat is the trophy for their real salvation and objectives; adding meat to their food source is vital for them and, in this case, the black pussycat becomes a symbol of the worst, because it is also vengeance for the oppression that they feel because of its owner, the neighborhood snitch.

The masterful performances by Jorge Prugorria as Raul, Alberto Pujol as Armando, Barbaro Marin and Coralita Veloz, as Camilo and Delfina, respectively, ride the scene, in a brilliant team, to a worthy height, artistically speaking, which leaves a taste of pain instead of pleasure.

We are grateful for the effort of the Vilaplana family and the artist friends that joined the project because in the death of the character Armando, we kill part of the shadow that still pursues us from those hardships, and in the suffering and tears of Raul and Camilo, our own tears flowed, in the full exercise of personal exorcisms.

These days, the short film has been invited to participate in the Cannes Festival; in spite of the pain of our lives reflected on the screen, knowing that the guilty dictatorship still maintains power for more than half a century, each time the Cubans wandering the world in search of freedom and opportunity overcome the fear of being pursued in whatever corner of the planet where they try to hide, they triumph, above all with the weapon of art, the most effective of all.

Receive my embrace and thanks for the unmerited dedication, from your brother Angel from the Lawton settlement.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement.  May 2014.

Translated by mlk

21 September 2014

Angel Santiesteban’s New Dossier

The mechanism of annulment is cleanly bureaucratic: You can’t hire an attorney without having completed the dossier. The prosecution prepares its case in the dungeons.

Lilianne Ruiz

Havana, Cuba.  In the doorways of Avenue Acosta, in the neighborhood of La Vibora, some faded beings sell aluminum scouring pads, Band-Aids and little boxes of matches. A few meters away, crossing Calzada de Diez de Octubre – formerly Jesus del Monte – is the former police station of Acosta and Diez de Octubre, which now advertises itself, by a lighted sign, as a Territorial Unit of Criminal Investigation and Operations of the Ministry of the Interior. The latest news about the writer, Angel Santiesteban, places him in the cells of that sinister place.

Another writer, the Czech Milan Kundera, victim in his time of the same procedures, pointed out that our only immortality exists in the archives of the political police. In this city of changed names, where poetry is a military choir, where the violation of human rights is called anti-imperialism and there is thoughtless defense of socialism, and where some nameless beings without a voice sell scouring pads in order to eat, I think about my friend who is experiencing the same awful misfortune.

Except for Daniela Santiesteban, his 18-year-old daughter, sufficiently bewildered and frightened to not want to speak with the independent press or the dissident friends of her father, no one else has seen him nor can corroborate that he hasn’t been maltreated, or that he really tried to escape from prison, as the authorities say.

The Territorial Unit building has checkpoint surveillance. It seems to be the entrance where the detainees are taken to the dungeons, which are in the basement. Those who have left that prison say that below there are around 70 cells. And that’s where they look for confessions in all the cases. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know the first thing about the crimes that the official presents to them. The dossier can be false. It takes time to complete, so that in order to obtain the auto-inculpation, the false confession, no attorney can be present.

This is the beginning of total domination: The detainees can’t count on having the right to an attorney from the beginning of the charging process. The mechanism of annulment is simply bureaucratic; you can’t hire a lawyer without having a dossier and the case number. The trial is prepared underground.

It’s in these cells where you can be interrogated at any time, where no family member can have access unless he’s also a prisoner and where even your diet has been thoroughly studied with the goal of crushing your feeling of having rights. It’s there that your dossier would be assembled and the charge against you enumerated in the most total incommunication. Hannah Arendt already said it, when in 1961 she formulated the expression “banality of evil” as a phenomenon that is characteristic of every dictatorship: The first essential step on the path that leads to total domination consists of suppressing the juridical person in Man.

There’s another front entrance to the building. Going up the stairs you arrive at a reception area that is garishly green, with a sepulchral silence. Ornamental plants, always the same: miserable malanga vines. Portraits of Castro and other allegorical figures of July 26 provide ambience, so you don’t have any doubt that you’re in Hell. In this mournful place, the guard refuses to answer my questions about the situation of the detainee. He says that only his family can see him, and that he is accused of “detainee evasion”. “I’m not giving you any more information”, he concludes. The expression “detainee evasion” appears to be nonsense. It’s not clear what the accusation is. Neither does he answer when I ask his name and military rank, in spite of the fact that I told him, before he asked me for my identity card, who I am and what I do.

I know Angel. Before being taken to prison he had time to leave the island, but that’s not his intention. His awareness of not being guilty of the crime that the political police fabricated in collusion with his ex-wife, Kenia Diley Rodriguez, who had already made threats that she was going to destroy him, made him believe until the last moment that it wasn’t possible that the authorities would go so far in the consummation of evil.

On one of those afternoons when we talked about this, he told me how at the beginning of the whole process, neither he nor the people who would serve as witnesses, making him believe that they would stand by him when his accuser, Diley Rodriguez, told her story, thought it possible that a case would be opened against him. But he armed himself with a dossier with the case number. Later, his lawyers told him that it was impossible that a trial would take place, because that would not be logical. And there was a trial. And the sentence? It was announced to him previously during a detention, by a minion of the political police named Camilo – famous for his sadism – with the exact number of years to which he was condemned. Five.

So that this isn’t the first dossier prepared against Angel Santiesteban.

Interview with Marti News

The Lawton military settlement, which presents itself as the Ministry of Interior Housing Construction Company, was the last place Santiesteban was seen. So I went there to follow up. The prisoners, through a fence, repeated to me the authorities’ version, but no one could tell me that they really saw him being transferred from the prison. They only affirmed what the authorities said.

A friend of the writer named Reinaldo Gantes Hidalgo was “visited” by State Security, in a move that can be part of the new judicial fabrication, to ask him if he knew where Santiesteban was. Another person, who asked me not to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals, was detained for a week, accused of complicity without any evidence, but he hadn’t seen Santiesteban either. And it’s clear that State Security wouldn’t spare itself some arbitrary detention with which it could propagate the version that matches their perverted goals.

Gantes Hidalgo told me that after the visit of the son of Colome Ibarra, the present Minister of the Interior, to the military settlement of the regime prison, in his position as the head of the MININT Housing Construction Company, and after the escape of a boatman, an inmate who managed to get to Miami, three guards kept watch on Santiesteban at all times, even when he went to the bathroom. All of which was again inconsistent with the official version.

If there’s a relationship between this visit and the increase in vigilance, we can only deduce this from the question that Colome Jr. asked him. With much sarcasm he questioned him about the woman who called the Directorate-General of Jails and Prisons to denounce Santiesteban for the possession of a laptop and a cell phone hidden inside the prison, and about a supposed plan to escape. From there they also started the records. With these notices it’s not very probable that Santiesteban would have improvised an escape from an island where there are police guarding almost every corner, and boats patrolling 24 hours a day thanks to Venezuelan oil.

All this points to a set-up. After which his son, Eduardo Santiesteban, 17 years old, conceded an interview to Karen Caballero, a journalist from Marti News, where he denounced the manipulation of State Security in the trial against his father. And so he began to demolish the first dossier. Let’s remember that during the trial, they used, as pretend proof, his declaration that Angel didn’t accompany him home in order to claim, in a rare sophisticated use of ubiquity, that he found him at home with his mother, Kenia Diley. As if by being absent from one place he would be fatefully in another.

So that the prosecutor’s maliciousness, added to the fact that trials aren’t independent, had the result of an unjust sentence based on ridiculous reasoning, twists and lack of proof.

Until Angel Santesteban commnicates his version, we can’t believe the authorities, who are dependent on a government of which it can be said that not only do they lie, but they also hardly ever tell the truth.

Published by Cubanet.

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

 Translated by Regina Anavy

18 August 2014

Liberty Costs Dearly, and Angel Santiesteban Decided to Buy It for Its Price

In the world there has to be a certain quantity of decency, just as there has to be a certainly quantity of light. Where there are many men without decency, there are always others who have in themselves the decency of many men. Those are the ones who rebel with terrible force against those who steal from the people their freedoms, which is to steal decency from men. In those men are thousands of men, an entire people, human dignity. Those men are sacred.”  Jose Marti.

Today, August 28, 2014, it has been a year and a half, 18 months, 72 weeks, 548 days or 13,152 hours since Angel was unjustly incarcerated.

In this time, not a single response from the dictatorship in answer to the requests for a Review of his rigged trial after the false complaints by a resentful woman manipulated by State Security.

In this time, his son grew enough to distance himself from his mother, the complainant, and to tell that he was manipulated to lie and testify against his father for the purpose of hurting him.

Cuban writer Amir Valle presenting Angel’s book

In this time, Angel has continued writing, publishing, and reaping awards.

In this time, Angel has continued denouncing the brutalities of the most pampered dynastic dictatorship in the world where hypocrisy reigns.

But, in this same time, thanks to the same dictatorship that keeps him incarcerated, he has been able to denounce the horrors from the very heart of hell, the Castro penitentiary system.

After the simple words of his son — which dismantled the State Security’s crudely concocted plot against him — they have only increased his isolation in punishment because of them, and that’s why we continue not knowing his own version of the events that had him in an unknown location for a week.Right now, his own reality came to occupy the place of the complaints that he cannot send us.

The silence to which they condemn him, the blind, deaf and mute justice, the illegal transfers and his solo confinement, are the most tangible proof that his complaints are true, that Cuba lives in submission to a ruthless dictatorship, where there exists no separation of powers and that to assume the universal right of free expression one pays very dearly.

Incarcerating him and silencing him, the regime says through Angel much more than he himself; it only corroborates with events what it denies in speeches, that yes, always decorated with supposed reforms and feigned openings that are nothing more than the other such farces to which we have become accustomed.

Angel continues a prisoner but freer than ever. The truth is that they will never be able to silence him. The Jaimanitas cell where there is an officer posted at the door 24 hours a day is the most patent and pathetic proof that Cuba is steeped in terror.

“A just principle, from the depths of a cave, can do more than an army.”  Jose Marti.

The Editor

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

 Translated by mlk.

27 August 2014

Communication About the Prison Situation of Angel Santiesteban

Inexact information published in recent days with respect to the true state of Angel Santiesteban created information and confusion and has been spread on the Internet, causing concern to those in many countries of the world who are concerned about the unjust imprisonment of this writer.

For him, after confirmation with family sources and others close to the writer, we want to offer the only information at our disposal.

Angel Santiesteban is in a prison in Jaimanitas, in a cell, alone, with the guard at the door all the time. They allow him out of the cell every three days and let him make a phone call. In principal, he can receive visits every 21 days.

The editor

Please sign the link to request Amnesty International to recognize Angel as a prisoner of conscience.

Spanish post
25 August 2014

Amidst Rumors and Disinformation,Angel Santiesteban Continues Missing

{*Translator’s Note: Angel disappeared from prison on July 21, 2014. As of today he has not been heard from for 29 days.}

Five days* have passed now since the disappearance of the writer Angel Santiesteban in Havana, barely hours after he wrote a post from Lawton prison,  in which he announced to the world that there were strong rumors that the Regime’s prison authorities would transfer him to a higher security prison.

After his disappearance from said prison last July 21, without the Cuban authorities informing family members of anything, another rumor started circulating: supposedly, Angel Santiesteban had escaped. In a telephone call that the writer’s son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban, made to the prison, worried at not knowing anything about his father, a minor official confirmed the rumor. “I don’t know if they did it to scare me, to make me more nervous than I am,” said the 16-year-old, on the Columbian television program, Night, Channel NTN24. In conversations with family and friends he has said that he feels this lie by the regime’s prison officials is a bad sign.

Maria de los Angeles Santiesteban Prats said the same thing, from Miami: “The telephone harassment I’m suffering since my brother disappeared in Cuba, and other information we have obtained and that can’t now be revealed in order to protect some people on the island and in exile, make me think that this is another maneuver of the dictatorship: Spreading this rumor about my brother’s escape serves only to deflect attention from something big they are doing to him and that they don’t want known.” In a conversation with the NeoClub Press agency, she affirmed that “They are blackmailing me; last night, for example, I received an anonymous call coming from Japan. They call me and tell me that it’s better that I shut up, that I’m going to end up losing.”

A simple analysis of the facts preceding Santiesteban’s disappearance is enough to confirm the family’s suspicions.

After many months without responding to the Request for Review of the judgment against Angel, undertaken by the defense attorney last year, the Cuban judicial authorities (as they have now demonstrated in this case, manipulated by the Cuban political police) received a hard blow which totally undid the judicial farce they prepared to condemn the lauded Cuban writer to five years for a supposed crime of domestic violence. One of the principal prosecution witnesses, the writer’s own son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban, granted an interview to Television Marti, in which he explained that being a minor he was forced and manipulated by his mother – Kenia Diley Rodriguez – at the urging of Castro’s State Security, forcing him through psychologists and other specialists, to declare against his father.

In this interview, and in a later one on the television program Colombia Night, he confessed that he never saw anything like what his mother said Angel did, and that the political police took advantage of “amorous” problems between his parents, inciting Kenia Diley Rodriguez to collaborate in a plot to punish Angel’s dissident stance and the international denunciations that he made in his blog, The Children Nobody Wanted. This evidence, which exposed the dirty strategy of State Security, makes it logical to think that the regime would want to punish the writer and his family with this disappearance. It’s not an isolated fact, since every Cuban dissident who has been incarcerated can tell similar stories.

Another detail that casts doubt about the rumor of flight is the same post the writer sent from prison, hours before his disappearance, in which he made known that one of the possible reasons of his transfer was the fact that two high government officials, condemned for corruption, would be sent to Lawton prison, where he was located. Logic imposes itself: It was necessary to transfer Angel to avoid his making contact with these officials and thereby getting first-hand information about the corruption in high spheres of the island’s government.

A third event to take into account would be the constant threats that Angel received in the last months to stop writing denunciations in his blog. In spite of these threats, in spite of the fact that he had to hide in order to write and look for different ways of eluding the vigilance to get his writing out of prison, they didn’t manage to shut him up; so that, in communication with his friends and family, he had shown his suspicion that they would transfer him to a higher security prison (thereby violating the established legal procedure for cases with his sanction), if only to avoid his continued denunciation of the most sinister face of a dictatorship that pretends to show itself to the world as a truly human system.

Finally, as Angel Santiesteban’s international prestige has grown, the repressive forces of the regime have become more rabid and impotent. Its murderous blindness doesn’t permit them to digest the fact that important intellectual and international human rights institutions have their eyes on the writer, unjustly imprisoned on the island; that this world recognition has allowed him to receive the Jovenaje 2014 award, which is granted every year for the work and life of an important Cuban intellectual, and that Reporters Without Borders has included him on the list of the world’s 100 Information Heroes.

“Something big has happened and they are hiding it,” said Maria de los Angeles, Angel’s sister, in several interviews these last days. “I demand that they show my brother alive and well, because he never has had the intention of escaping.”

We have mentioned it many times but it’s good to remember it again: The little time he has been in prison, Angel was visited by agents of State Security to offer him his freedom in exchange for abandoning his antagonistic position and testifying about this compromise in a video. After roundly refusing, they told him he should look for a friendly embassy to arrange his deportation, something Angel also roundly refused. It’s also good to remember again how many times they threatened him with death, in prison or before.

Obviously they don’t make such proposals to a simple “home invader”; if anyone knows something about home invasions it’s the regime; it’s a daily practice with which they try to intimidate the valiant and peaceful opposition. And they know about maltreating women, which we can add to everything the world knows and consents to with its complicit silence. The Castro regime takes the prize for its duplicitous discourse, now charging Mariela Castro to “sell” the image of an open government that respects gender diversity. It’s enough to see the brutal images of aggression against the Ladies in White, to know their testimonies, along with that of other dissident women and LGBT activists who don’t conform to the designs of the dictatorship, to know how much falsity there is in that Castrista discourse.

Angel has spent five days* in an unknown location, and WE DEMAND HIS IMMEDIATE APPEARANCE IN PERFECT CONDITION. We demand that finally justice be done, and that after the Revision of the judgment, with all its procedural guarantees, he be freed because HE IS INNOCENT.

RAUL CASTRO is absolutely responsible for what can happen to Angel, and WE WARN THAT THERE ARE NO POSSIBLE ACCIDENTS to justify what they can do. The international community is witness to all this horror happening to Angel, and NOW THERE IS NO PLACE FOR IMPUNITY. The same goes for his minor son, EDUARDO ANGEL SANTIESTEBAN RODRIGUEZ.

The Editor

Maria de los Angeles Santiesteban, in the name of the whole family

Amir Valle

Lilo Vilaplana

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

Translated by Regina Anavy, August 18, 2014

26 July 2014

RWB Exhorts Cuban Authorities to Clarify Angel Santiesteban-Prats’ Situation

Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cuban writer and blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats disappeared from the jail at San Miguel del Padron on July 21, 2014.  Authorities at first said that he had escaped; nevertheless, ten days later his daughter managed to speak with him briefly at a police precinct.  His whereabouts are still unknown.

After having denounced the disappearance of Angel Santiesteban-Prats from the jail where he had been since April 2013, his relatives are worried about the accusation of attempted escape.

They have not yet been able to learn the Cuban writer and blogger’s version, but his family suspects that this new complaint is unfounded and its only purpose would be to increase his sentence to captivity.

The only person who has been able to see Angel Santiesteban-Prats since his disappearance has been his daughter. The interview only lasted ten minutes and was in the presence of a police agent; during this time the father, therefore, had no opportunity to speak freely. Since the said encounter occurred, the authorities have reported nothing about the writer’s situation, and rumors grow.

“Reporters Without Borders exhorts the Cuban authorities to explain clearly the current situation of Angel Santiesteban-Prats,” said Camille Soulier, head of the Americas’ Office of said organization. “The risk increases for the blogger each day that passes without news of him. We demand his immediate liberation and the withdrawal of all and each of the accusations brought against him.  The repressive methods of the Cuba regime increasingly resemble those days of the ’Black Spring.’”

It has been more than a year since the author of the blog “The Children Nobody Wanted” found himself behind bars by virtue of his ostensibly critical position towards the Cuban government.  In December 2012 after an expedited trial he was found guilty of “home violation and assault” and was sentenced to five years in prison.  In April 2013 he was transferred to the prison center of San Miguel del Padron where he suffered torture and mistreatment.

His recent disappearance conincides with an interview given by his son last July 15 on Television Marti, a news channel with headquarters in Miami.  In that interview, he affirmed that he had been forced to corroborate the false accusations against his father.  Also, according to Eduardo Angel Santiesteban, the “hero of the report” has never assaulted his ex-wife, and the judgement is a mere sham.

Cuba is in place number 170 among 180 countries in the 2014 edition of the World Classification of World Press Freedom by Reporters Without Borders, occupying the last place among countries of the American hemisphere.

Published by Reporters Without Borders

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

Translated by mlk.

6 August 2014

Angel Santiesteban and the Path of the Fugitive

By Armando Añel, July 30, 2014

The confused news that comes from Havana indicates that either Angel Santiesteban ran away from the prison-settlement where he was unjustly imprisoned or the political police have launched a fabrication to condemn him to a longer term of imprisonment and keep him isolated.

In any case, we must wait for specific statements from the novelist and blogger. Today we know that his children saw him in prison but they couldn’t speak freely with him: a member of State Security was with them the whole minuscule time they were with their father.

I don’t believe it, but if Santiesteban effectively took the decision to flee — in spite of the fact that, as his sister Maria de los Angeles Santiesteban said, at another time he could have remained in the exterior without major inconvenience and he didn’t do so — I congratulate him.

Begging pardon from friends and colleagues who disagree, one never should surrender to a delinquent regime. In Cuba no procedural guarantee exists, and we all know the degree of superlative helplessness that the citizenry suffers. A product that the Castro regime has exported to countries like Venezuela, where the case of Leopoldo Lopez shows that these gestures of chivalry are counterproductive in societies hijacked by the State.

I chatted with Idabell Rosales for a moment. Santiesteban never should go into prison voluntarily. Not only because of the rigged trial that he suffered previously and that made his sentence absolutely unjust, but also because in countries like Cuba all the gear of social coexistence, of daily structure, is flawed in advance and twists the logic of personal relations.

During these last months, in the face of the campaign for his freedom, he saw with clarity the degree of vilification by the Cuban intellectual class not only on the Island or among the pro-Castro creators, but also in the exterior and in a part of the media-oriented dissidence that he says “laments” his detention but travels half the world without advocating for his freedom.

To live in Cuba is to surrender to a darkly surrealist reality, and to yield to the jailers of the country as he did in 2013, seemed to me and seems to me to be doubly absurd. Fugitives don’t hand themselves over. But I respect, scrupulously, the author of The Summer God Slept and those who defend that type of attitude, brave like very few. It appears that God continues to sleep. Although, as Carlos Alberto Montaner said, we also know that He will wake up.

Published in NeoClub Press.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

Communication About the Situation of Angel Santiesteban

The truth is always above all and we must devote ourselves to it. And, before the accumulation of contradictory information about the actual status, location and circumstances that surround the case of the writer Angel Santiesteban, fulfilling the responsibility to be the voice of the writer and not adding our voice to any of the versions, rumors and speculations that are circulating, we have decided to wait to have direct news, hoping that he himself will communicate with us. We trust that he was soon find a channel to send us news.

The Editor

Please sign the petition at this link.

29 July 2014

S.O.S.: Angel Santiesteban Transferred and His Whereabouts Unknown

Since yesterday, July 21, Angel Santiesteban Prats is in an unknown location.  I will now relate the events that preceded this new arbitrariness on the part of Cuban State Security.

Joining him in his helplessness is his younger son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban Rodriguez, 16 years old, the son of Angel and the woman who plotted against him with State Security in order to incarcerate him.

The youth — once old enough to escape from the clutches of his mother — asked to tell the truth about what had happened and how he was manipulated by her and by the Castro regime State Security to testify against his father.  Here is the link to his statements.

Obviously, we are very worried about the fate that may await the boy, for we already know through Angel’s own experience that no apologies are made for harassing and incarcerating minors.  In fact, Angel learned the drama of prison at 17 when he was jailed for saying goodbye to his three older brothers who were planning to leave the Island on a boat.  The escape was thwarted, the three “deserters” were captured, along with the youngest (Angel) for “harboring” them.  After a year and a half of incarceration, he was freed because saying goodbye to his brothers was deemed “not a crime.”

But no one gave him back the lost time and the hard experience he lived through, which — justifiably — became prime material for his prizewinning literature widely regarded for its unflinching realism and strong condemnation of the penitentiary system, among other condemnations.  Angel has already well-explained how the Regime endured this literature without taking much action, awaiting the opportunity to attack him directly, which happened in 2008 by opening the blog and publicizing everything that was of the public domain.

Now the son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban Rodriguez,  worthy seed of a valiant one such as Angel, runs grave risk of going through what his father did, or even worse. Eduardo Angel already has told what State Security did in collusion with his mother, Kenia Rodriguez Diley.

With regard to Angel’s own situation, the Regime continues to punish him for his upright position against it, and does not back down in its efforts to complicate all the judicial interventions to which he has a right by law.  The objective is to eventually water down his claims because they do NOT have any argument that can sustain all the false accusations hanging over him, now that his own son told the truth, unmasking the dictatorship’s judicial farce.

Angel declared on the blog:

“My family has just, coincidentally, found out that the Review Department has sent a letter to my lawyer Lourdes Arzua, who substitutes for Amelia Rodriguez, who was cut from service for six months, where they informed her that I have asked not to have legal representation, which is completely false.  I suppose that the “misunderstanding” is due to my call to that Department, in order to find out if the file had arrived in their hands, after the tribunal denied the number and my name matched.  My lawyer appeared in order to clarify that the number and my name were correct.  Although it appeared a joke, because that number — 444 — was that of a police serial that in 2012 was shown on Cuban television.  I suppose it has to do with some joke that the bosses played with my case.

I was assisted in the call by Chief Oslaydi, who has just been ousted, perhaps for assuring me that she “would correct it and that she would pass the verdict to the Ministry of Justice, which was who, definitively, would determine what measure to take in my case.”  The last time that I spoke with her, her affable and polite manner had changed.  Her behavior was coarse.  I supposed that she had already been visited by State Security officials, and they dictated to her what to write in my case, just as they did with the tribunal that “judged” me, then on Appeal and now on Review.

I always say, I am not naive, that the procedures to restore justice in my case are not for the government to straighten out, because they have never done it, they have never recognized an error, the “Revolution” is not mistaken, thus, its governors are perfect; complaints are made in order to continue sliming people and one day the truth may be known.  Justice demands it because that is our reason for being, what has us jailed, therefore, we must continue forcing them to grow their institutional evil, which they do by refusing to accept the truth as justice.

For my file to arrive at the Review Department more than a year has passed, when normally, and according to their laws, it should take no more than three months to issue an answer.  Once they had to accept the Review, six months from the filing, they invalidated my lawyer Amelia Rodriguez; now they send a letter to the office in a new effort to invalidate my representative and, as in the “trial,” leave me once more “legally defenseless,” as attorney Miguel Iturria, who was my defender then, recognized.

In recent days my lawyer inquired about the course of the file, and they informed her that a document “of the cause” is missing, which the tribunal must present; which contradicts what the ex-chief told me, that the file had already been delivered to a specialist who was working on his exhausting review.

All this foolishness by State Security, I feel it like the kicking of the hanged man.  If they thought that once I was incarcerated they were going to sap my strength, I cannot think anything other than that they calculated this as if they themselves were in my place, but in my case, my strength to fight for the liberty of my country has increased.”

The day after denouncing this new judicial hoax, he declared:

In the most extreme example of “the secretiveness of the State,” State Security is preparing my transfer to a border patrol unit.”

For days now a rumor has been circulating that is now taken as fact, given that the prison authorities await my transfer to be completed so that they can transport a Minister and a Vice-Minister of Construction who are serving sentences for “diversion of resources”.  There is no way that officials will allow these prisoners to coincide with me, fearing that I will obtain information from them and later divulge it on my blog. 

Following the escape of a prisoner and his arrival on the coast of Miami, State Security ordered a reinforcement of the surveillance being conducted on me. They established a 24-hour command post and they’re watching every move I make within the settlement.

A few minutes ago, they just ordered some bars to be soldered to secure the place where they will take me, and they said these had to be in place before tomorrow at the aforementioned border patrol unit.

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

I reaffirm that I have more strength than on the first day of my incarceration. It is an honor that they commit these extreme acts against me, for exercising the faculty of thinking and expressing my opposition to the dictatorial regime that has been subjugating our country for more than half a century. Meanwhile, they tolerate murderers, drug traffickers and rapists, barely even harassing or watching them, as they do in my case.

Long live live Cuba, and may She Live Free.

 Sunday, June 20, 2014. Lawton Prison Settlement, 10:30pm. 

 The rumor became a reality

Ángel was transported yesterday, illegally, without his next of kin being notified nor him being permitted to make a telephone call. Since then, he has been held at an unknown location.

The recent confession by Ángel’s son regarding his father’s innocence, and the fact that just a year ago (2 August, 2013), Ángel was transported illegally and arbitrarily, without his family knowing, to the settlement where he currently resides — and that he was held for four days at a location unknown until his relatives investigated the matter outside of official channels, causes us to think that this time the punishment could be more severe.

The sadism of this Regime is enormous, and they are hitting him where it hurts the most: his son. Evidently they’re trying to punish the father for the courage shown by his son, isolate him even more, and prevent him from continuing to denounce to the world the reality of how it is with him and with Cuba.

Now, we are not speaking solely of accusations the human rights of an adult who committed to the liberty of his country. We are now dealing with a grave violation of the rights of the child during the Kafkaesque proceedings visited upon the father. They used the child as cannon fodder to falsely incriminate a dissident courageous enough to call Raúl Castro a dictator. Now, this child become an adolescent – who has provided a tremendous lesson in courage and honesty to the world – is at the mercy of State Security and its sadistic system for punishing those who dare express themselves freely. The boy’s helplessness is further increased by his father being not only encarcerated, but in a unknown location.

It is not an exaggeration to sound an international alert in support of Ángel and Eduardo Ángel. It is enough to witness the numerous cases publicized by the media regarding the abuses and punishments of the children of dissidents, including their incarceration. One such is the case of the three Alexei brothers, Vianco and Django Vargas Martín , who were jailed starting in late 2012, when the twins Vianco and Django were only 16 years old. They are the children of the dissident Miraida Martín Calderín, a member of the UNPACU [Patriotic Union of Cuba] and the Ladies in White. There is the case of an eight-year-old girl, Yanisleidis Olivier Reve’, daughter of Damaris Rodríguez Revé, member of the Ladies in White, who was held back a grade in school because of her mother’s activism.

From this post I call upon the international community to support Angel and his son, and I emphasize, once again, that the life and health of both are the exclusive responsibility of Raúl Castro. The world is watching and there is no longer any hiding it, even less in the sham accusations against Ángel, ripped apart by a mere boy.

 –The Editor

Translated by mlk and Alicia Barraqué Ellison 

22 July 2014