Category Archives: Ángel Santiesteban

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

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