Category Archives: Translator: Regina Anavy

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

(Photo courtesy of Neo Club Press)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, April 2014

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

Translated by Regina Anavy
11 April 2014

Angel Santiesteban’s Work Again Recognized in France

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

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

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

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

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

The Editor

A meeting

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


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

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

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

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

An enthralling book

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

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

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

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


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

Maison Pour Tous de la Belle de Mai

6 Blvd. Boyer, 13003 Marseille

Free admission

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

Translated by Regina Anavy
4 April 2014

Guille, The Macho Guajiro / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban Prats dedicates this article to Guillermo Vidal, to remember the tenth anniversary of his death. He wrote it from the Lawton Prison Settlement for the column “Some Write” from the digital magazine “OtroLunes” (“Another Monday”).

By Angel Santiesteban Prats

It’s always a pleasure to remember Guillermo Vidal.

Sharing with him the adventure of writing has been one of the great rewards that life has offered me. His sympathy, modesty and talent seasoned his conversations. He was a man called to make friends, easy to like, and always persecuted by injustice, since they never could make him bow down. He maintained his literature at a high price, because he didn’t yield even one iota of his level of social criticism.

When they expelled him as a professor from the university, they didn’t even ask how he was going to live or maintain his family. Being despised and marginalized by the government of his territory in Las Tunas, by the demand of the political police, he became himself.

He was part of an intellectual existence that he accepted with stoicism, without complaint, which he endured in solitude and repaid with brilliant writing. That was his revenge.

After treating him like the plague for many years, the government offered a tribute to an official writer, and we agreed to attend if Guille would be among those invited. Once there, in the seat of the Provincial Party, in the same lair as the dictatorship, one of us said publicly that our presence had no other end but to lionize Guillermo Vidal, the most important living writer of Las Tunas, and one of the most important in the country; that it was a way of supporting him and demonstrating our friendship.

The government functionaries and those in charge of culture opened their eyes, surprised by the audacity. Those were the times when we still had not gained some rights that we have now, and where for much less than what is done today, there were immediate reprisals.

What is certain is that on that night and in the following days, we felt like better people and better intellectuals for showing our solidarity with him. Later he let us know that, from that moment, things got better for him. He stopped being banned and persecuted, because the authorities feared his contacts in the country, especially in Havana.

Now that we are on the eve of another congress of UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba), I remember what happened during the decade of the ’90s. After the vote to name the officers, Professor Ana Cairo, the officer of the Roger Avila Association of Writers, and I counted the votes, and there were a surprising number of artists who voted for Guillermo Vidal.

No one else had as many votes; no one even came close. However, later, when I saw who they elected, I understood that the votes were only a game, because Abel Prieto determined the election. They didn’t give any commission to Guillermo Vidal, not even in his own province. He was cursed, on the list of the marginalized.

When he died, it caused an infinite sadness, impossible to describe. I called the Institute of the Book (ICL), since I knew that they would have transport to take writers who wanted to participate in his burial.

The Taliban Iroel Sanchez, at that time the President of this institution, assured me that the microbus already had seats assigned. Of course, he was lying to me, and I intuited that in his words. Later, those who made the trip in that transport told me that not all the seats were taken.

I regretted very much not being able to say goodbye to him in that last moment. They feared that the truth would come out: that they had condemned him in life by closing all the doors to him that he knew his literature, a stroke of talent, would win. Surely I would have said that.

You can’t talk about Cuban literature at the end of the 20th century without mentioning the genres of the short story and the novel. However, in spite of the human misery that surrounded him, and the material poverty they obliged him to suffer, his genius at being a good Cuban jokester is the first thing that comes to mind when we think about him. That’s how I want to remember him now.

The book fairs in Havana take place in February and almost always coincide with his birthday, the 10th, that all his friends celebrated in harmony. We also celebrated February 14. I have one of his books, presented to me during those days, and I remember the dedication to me that “in spite of it being the day of love (Valentine’s Day), don’t get me wrong, I was a macho, macho guajiro.”

He had a spectacular snore. It almost loosened the nails from the beams and raised the roof. When you approached his room, the first sensation was that there was a roaring lion inside. The result? No one wanted to share a room with him.

Once, late in the night in Ciego de Avila, I met another writer from Las Tunas, Carlos Esquivel, literally crying in the lobby of the hotel because he couldn’t manage to sleep with those snorts.

When I described this scene the next day to Guillermo, he laughed like a naughty child. He asked me to repeat the story so he could continue to amuse himself, and he called for the others to listen to what suffering he was capable of inflicting, unconsciously.

In one of the prizes he won, and there were several, he had the luck to receive dollars. Then we got a telephone call saying that he was a relative of Rockefeller, and that he was ready to share his fortune; thus, he was generous. Certainly, in those few months I didn’t have a cent, and he continued in his material poverty. No one except his friends and spouse could believe him.

At one book fair in Guadalajara he told me that sometimes he had the impression that the government permitted him to leave to see if he stayed and they would get rid of him, and he laughed imagining the faces of the functionaries when they saw him return.

In one of his visits to Havana, he confessed to me how surprised he was because another writer told him that he envied him, and he couldn’t conceive of being anyone to envy, and he laughed. “When I go home from the university, at high noon, the cars pass me and no one gives me a ride, and they leave me wrapped in dust to the point that I stop breathing so I don’t swallow the dust,” he said, and he began to laugh.

Then I told him that I would exchange all that poverty for his books, that I also envied him, and he got serious, and in a respectful tone asked me if I was serious.

Thus he always comes into my memory, ironic as the priest’s pardon after confessing sins, and as sweet as the tamarind that they give the leaders to taste.

This year is the tenth anniversary of his physical disappearance. And every year, in spite of some mediocre political and cultural figures who agree to forget him, the imprint of Guillermo Vidal on Cuban culture overrides frontiers and political regimes. And this is elaborated with the passage of time, which was the only thing he didn’t laugh about. To struggle against time through writing was an exercise on which he bet his life.

Published in OtroLunes.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

9 April 2014

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

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

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

March 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State of Cuba

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

27 March 2014

The blog “The Children Nobody Wanted” on Twitter and Facebook / Angel Santiesteban

To follow the update of Ángel Santiesteban-Prats’ blog on Twitter:


To follow on Facebook: Go Here.

Translated by Regina Anavy

27 March 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. March 2014.

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

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

19 March 2014

Signatories Forever, Unredeemed Brownnosers / Angel Santiesteban

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, March 2014

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

 Translated by Regina Anavy

RWB: The Castro Regime Has Developed an Original Model of Control / Angel Santiesteban

Reporters without Borders: Cuba prohibits a free Internet

All content considered “antirevolutionary” is automatically blocked. All information that is published in the media is filtered, according to the criteria of the Party.

Cuba continues preventing the majority of its population from having access to a free (i.e. uncensored) Internet, even though the submarine fiber-optic cable, ALBA-1, coming from Venezuela and the unblocking of some web sites constitute a ray of hope. The Castro regime has developed an original model of control, based on the existence of a local Intranet. Access to the Internet is excessively expensive. The prices are prohibitive. Add to that the omnipresence of the government institutions.

The country’s organ of censorship, the Department of Revolutionary Orientation (DOR), filters all the information that is published in the official communication media, according to the Party’s criteria. They automatically block all content considered “antirevolutionary.” This censorship, that applies not only to the web, it is based on the Penal Code in force that criminalizes “disrespect,” “defamation,” “slander,” “insults,” and “offenses against the authorities, the institutions of the Republic, and the heroes and martyrs of the nation,” among other things.

 The Ministry of Computing and Communications

It was created in the year 2000 with the goal of ensuring respect for the Revolutionary ideology defended by the DOR on the Internet. There is very little information available on the technology that the Cuban authorities employ in terms of censorship. The University of Computer Sciences (UCI), as well as the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) — the national provider of access to the Internet — work with the departments of surveillance and censorship that back up the actions of the Ministry. The blockade of Internet content is carried out by ETECSA.

The year 2011 was marked by certain concessions of the government, like the unblocking of some web sites. This is the case with the sites Desde Cuba and Voces Cubana (From Cuba and Cuban Voices), where numerous opposition blogs are posted, among them Generación Y (Generation Y), whose author is Yoani Sánchez.

However, the detention of a dozen bloggers and netcitizens at the end of 2012, among them Calixto Ramón Martínez, who was freed seven months after being in prison, counteracted this small advance. Although these interruptions were more sporadic in 2013, it’s accurate to note that the changes in Cuba are millimetric and that the situation remains stagnant.

In 2008, the percentage of connectivity to the Internet was about 1.2 percent of the population. Since then, the number of public points of access to the Internet has increased: According to the authorities, in June 2013, 118 new cyber-salons were inaugurated.

However, the price of connecting continued to be prohibitive: the equivalent to one-third of the average monthly salary of a Cuban (some US $21). The authorities claim that in 2013, four out of ten Cubans accessed the Intranet regularly, which allowed them to read their email, as well as some pages of official sites. According to the independent bureau of information, Hablemos Press, this figure is reduced to two out of 10. It’s possible to get on the Internet in the international hotels, but the usage is reserved for tourists, who can allow themselves to spend US $10 (two weeks of salary for a Cuban, on average).

Furthermore, the connections are surveilled almost systematically. To get on the national network, Cubans must present their identity cards; they surf below the vigilant eye of cameras and the surveillance agents in the cyber-cafes.

Also, the computers are equipped with programs like Avila Link (a link in English), developed in Cuba, that can cut off the connection at the least suspicion of “some violation of the norms of ethical behavior that the Cuban state promotes.” Independent informative Cuban web sites hosted outside Cuba, like Cubanet, Martí Noticias, Cuba Encuentro, Payo Libre and Hablemos Press, are on the black list, and it’s not possible to have access to them, even from the Internet in international hotels.

For a long time the Cuban authorities have attributed the difficulties of connecting to the Internet to the U.S. embargo. However, now that Cuba has the ALBA-1 fiber-optic cable, this argument becomes obsolete and makes it obvious that the authorities want to control the Web, showing their fear of Cubans being able to have free access to the Internet. The use of the high-speed Internet, which is now possible with ALBA-1, is mainly restricted to government officials.

If we believe the official declarations, 2014 should be a good year for accessing the Internet in Cuba. ETECSA forecast that it would begin to install DSL lines at the end of 2014 in zones that have the adequate technology. It’s cruel, but the country lacks infrastructure and the necessary funds to install it. The telephone network is not developed for this type of connection and is under total control of the national service provider, ETECSA. Under these conditions it’s difficult to imagine that the arrival of DSL on the island would have a big impact.

Last January they also announced that Cubans could access the Internet from their mobile phones, thanks to the vigorous entry of a measure that permits telephone bills for users on the island to be paid by people in the Exterior. But the cost of the foreign recharge, more than an opening for Cubans, is an economic strategy to get hard currency into the country.

In spite of this, some analysts observe that there is a tendency toward opening. The informative website Cubanet, based in the U.S., made seven technological predictions for Cuba in 2014. Among them were access to the Internet through mobile phones, the development of WiFi on the island, and even the possibility that the activists could travel outside the island, and acquire knowledge and education in computer science useful for their security online: all this thanks to the immigration and travel reforms that entered into force on January 14, 2013.

 The bloggers, those “mercenaries”

In the report on the “Enemies of the Internet” in 2012, Reporters Without Borders denounced the Cuban propaganda, which “didn’t stop attacking the bloggers who were critical of the regime, whom they accuse of being mercenaries in the service of the ’U.S. Empire’.” The bloggers “have been victims of campaigns to discredit and defame them in the State media, on propaganda sites outside the island, and in blogs like Blogueros y Corresponsales de la Revolución (Bloggers and Correspondents of the Revolution) and Las Razones de Cuba (The Reasons of Cuba).

The cable from the U.S. government — spread by WikiLeaks in 2009 — that suggested that the Regime feared the bloggers more than other types of dissidents, is more real than ever. During her world tour, Yoani Sánchez announced that she would launch a digital daily newspaper in Cuba. “The first day that we do it could be the worst; they could shut it down and attack all of us by blocking us from the web,” she said. “But it could also happen that we are sowing some seeds of a free press,” she added.

By contrast with the obstacles to access the Internet, information passes from hand to hand through USB flash drives. Some also try to create illegal points of access to the Internet. But government agents are in the streets to detect and destroy satellite antennas, so that there are real risks for people who try to have them.

Furthermore, they have positioned antennas to block the signals every five square kilometers. The netcitizens sometimes can use Twitter to send an SMS, without being sure that their messages will appear on Twitter. This microblogging frequently is not detected by the blockades orchestrated by ETECSA, which sometimes last for months.

The bloggers and collaborators of opposition websites like Hablemos Press or Payo Libre, are obliged to turn to certain diplomatic locations in order to publish their writings on websites outside the island.

Others, like the group Martí Noticias, located in Miami, count on correspondents on the island. The purveyors of information found there often are victims of raids in the communication media where they work, or of arbitrary detentions.

Such was the case with Mario Echevarría Driggs, David Ágila Montero, William Cacer Díaz, Denis Noa Martínez and Pablo Morales Marchán, detained for several days in October 2013.

The writer and author of the informative blog, Los hijos que nadie quiso (The Children Nobody Wanted), Ángel Santiesteban, was imprisoned, and his lawyer was suspended, so that she couldn’t practice law in the courts for a period of six months. The blog continues informing us about the situation of Ángel Santiesteban Prats, thanks to the work of activists who collaborate outside Cuba.

, 12 March 2014

Translated by Regina Anavy

13 March 2014

When Freedom Becomes Agony / Angel Santiesteban


“Thank you Fidel, for all you give us…”

Prisoners curse their freedom

Convicts say that when they get a pass for almost 72 hours every 10 days, their worries increase. They experience a major agony in the sense of feeling useless before the economic situation of their families. The little money they earn as slaves of the Regime that keeps them captive barely lets them satisfy the shortages that exist at home. They find their families without food, the children without shoes to go to school, and the electrical appliances broken, among other calamities.

In the first hours at home, already they have exhausted their savings, seeing themselves obligated to loan or offend, with the goal that at the end of their days on pass, their families remain with the minimum of needs guaranteed.

Once back in their beds in prison, they recognize that it’s preferable to be a prisoner, since they suffer less when they don’t have to confront the everyday reality and the constant pain of not knowing how to find a solution, how to stay on top of the poverty, without the familiar temptation of breaking the law.

“At least while we’re in prison we’re not suffering. We don’t see how poor our kids are,” they assert. “And we avoid crime, because we also know that it’s the only possible way to solve things,” says a convict, with whom the rest agree, and he affirms that “it’s preferable to be a prisoner, eat the acid, dirty rice with picadillo, to be beaten and put in a cell each time you feel like venting, than to see your loved ones looking at you like sparrows with open beaks, waiting for us to do a magic act and get some food to fall into them,” he says, and he keeps silent for a bit.

“Outside things have gotten worse. We feel fear when we leave because surely we’ll commit some misdeed,” someone affirms from the door, “and the hard part is to start another more severe sentence,” adds another. “We will never have the chance to be those ’citizens’ they want us to be, because society and the laws forget that we don’t have the least possible chance of surviving without stealing, and if we don’t, we would die of hunger.”

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, March 2014.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

12 March 2014

The Ministry of Revenge Imparts Punishment in the Castros’ Cuba

Raul Castro, are you satisfied now?

One year can be a sigh in time or an interminable nightmare; it depends on how you pass the year. To be deprived of freedom is always a bitter drink, but when in addition you’re innocent, when you’re condemned and incarcerated by a judicial system answering to the guidelines of political power of a dictatorship like that of the dynasty that you incarnate today, it’s much worse.

To this you have to add the characteristics of the prisons and concentration camps elaborated on by your Regime, which in no way resemble, neither in form nor in treatment, what you tried to make the national and international journalists who visited last year believe. They cowardly and immorally endorsed the farce to which they were subjected, ridiculing the tragic reality of the thousands of Cubans who, the length and width of the island, are brutally treated, tortured, humiliated and living in conditions that are absolutely inhumane.

As if the dirty complicity of the press wouldn’t have been enough the year before, this year, you, Castro II, tried – and with great success – to gain support for your dictatorship from the member presidents of CELAC, the secretary of the OAS, the director general of the United Nations and the European Union – which only a few days ago, announced that it would resume negotiations with your dictatorship, without caring in the slightest about the destiny of the 11 million inhabitants of the island. Economic interests are more powerful than the fundamentals at the dawn of the 21st century, but the OAS and the UN seem not to notice that they are consenting silently to letting other nations enrich themselves at the cost of Cuban blood and tears. Pathetic but true.

Meanwhile, in the concentration camps and penitentiaries of the Prison Island, more than a hundred political prisoners wait in vain for justice and freedom, and much of the opposition who are being besieged today will, before long, be political prisoners also.

The existence of the opposition in these circumstances should cause an international scandal, but on the contrary, it’s ignored obstreperously by those who can do something. Only the governments of Chile and Costa Rica showed interest and concern for the reality of the opposition in Cuba, and not for the Chinese story that they sold to all the rest of Havana in the context of the Second Summit of CELAC.

How far can the hypocrisy of the bigshots of the world and their selective blindness go? If the clamor for freedom, democracy and justice by the Cuban people isn’t enough for them, they should lend an ear to the people of Venezuela, whose country was colonized by its dictatorship in order to exploit the natural resources, to submit to its people and thereby perpetuate the badly-named “Revolution,” whose true name is “military dictatorship,” which attains power through a coup in order to subvert another military dictatorship.

Now we can’t understand the suffering of Cuba without understanding what’s happening in its sister country, Venezuela. There you have 30 million inhabitants who are submitted to the designs of Havana through its dauphin, Maduro, who came to power through electoral fraud, and since then has only intensified the task of “Castroization” of the country initiated by the deceased Chavez, another general who attempted a coup, and who governed as a dictator for 14 years in spite of having come to the presidency through the ballot box. The same as Adolf Hitler.

Venezuela also has an increasing number of political prisoners; the communications media are being accosted and gagged; and the students who go into the street demanding freedom are brutally massacred by the FANB and paramilitary groups. There are many denunciations with photographs of Cuban State Security agents who are infiltrated into these barbarous acts and who, only by seeing the images, are clearly recognized by their “style.”

In Cuba we can’t talk about electoral fraud because the whole communist system set up by the dictatorship is a fraud. For 55 years they call “elections” with a system of one party and candidates chosen by the elite of the Communist Party. Only they are chosen; only they can be voted for.

All this terrible situation that both countries live, twinned by the stomp of your boot, Castro II, unites the whopping number of 41 million people who cry out and need liberty and democracy NOW, and the full presence of their rights and guarantees.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats is a talented Cuban writer, a national and international award-winner, who one day decided to take off the mask and – whatever it cost – denounce to the world the sufferings of his country through his blog, opened in 2008, The Children Nobody Wanted.

Once he opened the blog, the “good” and the “bad” started arriving: the messages and warnings that he abandon his path. The pressure didn’t matter to him, and he went forward with his moral duty as a citizen of denouncing the Regime and reclaiming the rights that all sovereign people should have.

He undertook a long and difficult path the day he took the side of liberty and democracy, from physical aggressions, all types of threats, even ostracism and marginalization, including from those who called themselves good friends; and of course, betrayals here and there. None of this stopped him.

Finally the biggest infamy happened: His ex-wife and mother of his son made a false accusation with the support and advice of her then-partner, an agent of the political police. It didn’t matter to her to lie shamelessly and buy a false witness to send her ex-mate to prison because she couldn’t handle – after having abandoned him and leaving him with a small child during two and a half years – coming back to him to try again, and at that point he was involved in a happy and stable relationship.

These Machiavellian false denunciations finished by sending Angel to five years in prison for crimes that he did not commit after a farce of a trial that should be the shame of the Cuban judicial system. But no, in place of that, they insist on multiplying the violations of Angel’s rights, now ignoring the request for review of his trial that was presented in July last year by his lawyer, Amelia Rodriguez Cala, (recently disqualified – in a surprise move – for six months from exercising her profession in the courts).

He has been assaulted, harassed and threatened by his jailers, and they invented disciplinary punishments for him, like taking away the 70-day pass required for his type of penalty. In seven months he has left prison only once, at the end of September. That’s to say, not only are they violating rights universally consecrated but also they’re violating their own law, because it’s a right in force in the Cuban constitution to repeat the trial if the condemned requests it.

Today, February 28, 2014, Angel completes one year of imprisonment, hoping for a justice that doesn’t come, nor can it come while a dictatorship continues to occupy power in Cuba illegally. International solidarity can pressure the Regime to demand not only justice for him but also that the United Nations pacts be ratified. But that solidarity must be huge in order to counteract the immense harm that the presidents of the region have caused to Cubans: Secretary Inzulsa, Mr. Ban Ki Moon and the European Union, which drools over the chance to profit by doing business on the island.

I am calling for international solidarity on the part of governments, organizations and well-meaning citizens, to mobilize for Cuba and for all its political prisoners.

And meanwhile, I remind you, Raul Castro, of your absolute responsibility for the life and integrity of Angel, and for all political prisoners and members of civil society who are punished every day for expressing themselves and demanding freedom.

And I ask – now that you’re trying to make the world believe that you’re a reformist president and that you’re bringing change to Cuba – at least hide it a bit and take democratic steps that show your “good will.” Free all the political prisoners, ratify the UN pacts and call for open and free elections. If you don’t take these three steps, it will only go to prove that you continue being a ruthless dictator as you have been up to now, the same as your older brother.

I know perfectly that the ambition for power blinded your brother the same as you, but at that height of life, you should ask yourself if you can feel satisfied and rectify the course, so that at least the few haggard people who still have confidence in you don’t feel so defrauded when freedom finally comes and they can recognize the difference. And by the way, may God forgive you.

The Editor

Translated by Regina Anavy

28 February 2014