Response to my Blog Readers / Angel Santiesteban

Messages come to my blog mail, some elegant with congratulations for “my upright position” before the dictatorship; others, interested in my health, like this one that I answer in which they ask questions because they don’t understand why I’m in prison, then recognize that sometimes there are contradictions. And of course, this happens so much that I thought I needed to answer. With the most possible brevity, I’ll try to answer many questions in one single answer: this post.

Everything that is sanctioned in Cuba with a maximum sentence of five years is recognized as a “minimum severity” conviction. There are three types of sentences: “maximum”, “medium” and “minimal severity”. As my punishment was for five years, according to the present laws for prisoners condemned for “minimal severity”, they had to place me in a settlement.

The prisoners of “prioritized” character (meaning the most dangerous, condemned for murder, trafficking of people or drugs, economic crimes, rape, pederasty, etc.) are always sent to prisons.

But those like myself with a sentence of “minimum security” and furthermore, with a first offense, are transfered to a camp or a settlement, which is the same thing but with the difference that the second group contains fewer inmates. For example, if in a camp you can have little more than 100 prisoners, in the settlements (like the one I am in, in Lawton) they can only crowd together around some 20 inmates.

When they transfered me on April 9, 2013, from the camp of La Lima to Prison 15-80, the truth was that they were trying to hide me from that group of international journalists, and for that reason, unjustly, they changed my penitentiary regimen from minimum severity to medium severity. They held me there until August 2, the date when they brought me to this place: a settlement.

Once you are in the camp you are confined for the first three months. As indicated in the penal code, the prisoner has a right to a pass of 72 hours every 70 days. In the camp of La Lima, they transfered me at two months, one month before what could have been my first pass.

After arriving at the present Lawton settlement, they gave me a pass at the beginning of October. But in that release, according to the dictate of my principles, I met with the dissidents Antonio Rodiles and Jose Daniel Ferrer, among others, and I suppose that this was the reason, a fair decision, that they took away my pass authorizations, although it’s another one of their flagrant violations.

But they are so many and they have continued for so long, that it’s not worth the bother to complain, and up to this date, they have denied me a pass on five occasions.

Since the last year, exactly on July 4, 2013, the Petition for Review of my case was presented to the Minister of Justice. There they archived said petition for six months. Later they communicated that they did it for lack of a paper that the lawyer did not send.

She returned again to present the Review, and after some months, they answered that the court did not find similarity between the number of case 444/12 and my name. My lawyer returned to meet with the corresponding officials and showed them the papers that corroborated that there was no mistake, and then they recognized it.

All the times that I called this department, they assured me that they were doing what they could, and in their tone of voice, I didn’t suspect pressure on the part of State Security.

But once they told me, almost one year later, that they found the file in their offices; finally now the tone was abrupt and not friendly, and the experience that I had (forcibly), of recognizing when someone is afraid or pressured, made me intuit that this tone signaled the subsequent proceeding with my case.

Knowing their methods, I dare say that now the political police reported to this department and exposed the rules of the game. This is nothing new: It’s always been them, the omnipresent and omnipotent State Security.

First, they were the ones who decided to start the accusations against me. Later, they imposed a bond on me. After that, they sanctioned me through a manipulated trial, and, finally, they sent me to prison as a punishment for thinking differently. Now they are busy trying to detain me.

I don’t expect justice from that review. They, the judges, prosecutors and the rest of the officials who are busy imposing the law, do not govern themselves, just as no other institution of the country is auto-governing.

It’s not for pleasure that we live in a totalitarian regime. I only have accepted doing all these negotiations using the existing official channels to demonstrate clearly that I live in an inhuman and all-powerful system, which mocks the legal and judicial norms established internationally in order to truly defend the integrity of citizens.

I hope that the people who are interested in me feel that I have answered their questions. However, I take the time to insist, always, that the intentions of concern be honest. Thank you very much.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement, June 2014.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy

28 June 2014

Opportunistic Foreigners Who Suck the Dictatorship’s Tit: Alessandra Riccio, the Most Castroite of All the Neapolitans

Alessandra Riccio, a Neapolitan who resides in Cuba, knew how to live, like so many leftist foreigners, from the benefits that the totalitarian regime offered them. I don’t know if she came to be one more of the secret collaborators of State Security, captured by Commander Manuel Pineiro “Red Beard,” of course, dead in suspicious circumstances at a time when that death was very convenient for the Castro brothers, because with his secrets as Fidel’s private scribe he could sink them before international justice.

What is certain is that the lady in question has written a book about her memories of Cuba, at least those that she can or they permit her to tell, because if she tells some others she would be catalogued as a traitor by those who helped her out for so many years on the island.

Without seeing the book — really among the list of texts that I need to read, I don’t plan to give it space — I am sure that she did not tell, logical with her usual lack of honesty, that when she was a juror of the story genre in the “Casa de las Americas” prize in 1992, together with the Cuban and great writer Abilio Estevez, and the fabulous Argentine writer Luisa Valenzuela, State Security prohibited them from awarding my book “South: Latitude 13,” because of the heartbreaking stories of the internationalist Cubans in Africa.

She will not tell that they, as jurors, gave into those “extraliterary” demands because, according to Abilio, the political police officials told them that if they gave me they prize they would do me much harm. Coincidentally, an aide to Riccio told me that a little later she left Cuba disappointed and hurt for having seen herself “obliged to commit such injustice;” so much so, according to what they told me, that she had denied meeting me because of the shame that she felt because of her actions.

Abilio and Valnezuela, on the contrary, did decide to confront their guilt and tell me what happened. The first one explained to me what happened; then he did it with others, above all several years later on a trip to the Dominican Republic, when he told that shameful incident to several colleagues and editors, who corroborated their pain and shame because of that literary assassination.

For her part, on meeting me, Luisa Valenzuela was surprised by how young I was (I remember that she exclaimed that I was the same age as her daughter), and immediately proposed to take me to Argentina, a gesture that I appreciated although I refused.

For further embarrassment, last year, at the beginning of my incarceration, Riccio appears in a grisly list of “women against violence,” supporting the government’s injustice which sentenced me without evidence, in a biased trial where nothing that my lawyer did to demonstrate my innocence with five witnesses, videos, and documentary proof, which Riccio could have easily consulted on the internet, did any good.

But as in old times from the already mentioned Commander Red Beard, she prefers to attend swiftly to the call of the tyrant to shape her signature, as if it were not enough already to shoulder the weight of the shame of that other literary injustice that she had committed against my person and my literary career.

Now nostalgia has made her write a book remembering the authorized part that she can narrate, and the newspaper Granma has gotten a photo and a report about her love for Cuba (although I would dare to correct and change Cuba for dictatorship).  Do not worry, Riccio, your role as bootlicker has suited you well, and the tyrant rewards you.

Congratulations!

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  May 2014.

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

Translated by mlk.

2 July 2014

Another Day Without His Children / Angel Santiesteban

Angel saying goodbye to his son in the police car taking him to prison

Today is the second Father’s Day that two teenagers will spend without their dad, like many; they will throw him a kiss through the bars of the Lawton prison settlement, if the strict vigilance that the dictator dedicated to Angel Santiesteban doesn’t prevent it.

Three guards and some officials, just for him, watch him constantly. This “common inmate” must be very important to make the Cuban people pay for such “guarding.” Every official costs more than a thousand pesos, and there are three trios taking it in turn over 24 hours, generation a cost of more than seven thousand pesos a month, plus the gasoline for their transportation, and that of the bosses who come daily to check in person how the guarding of Angel is going.

Also today, there are many dads who will miss the warm kiss of their children, from the capricious vengeance of a dictator who violently represses and imprisons all those who fight peacefully for freedom.

Ramón Muñoz, Alan Gross, Jorge Cervantes, just to mention some of the many political prisoners of the Castro dictatorship, will, like Angel, spend another day without their children and many of them will spend the day without their parents.

Raul Castro with his family

The dictator brothers will celebrate — with their children and grandchildren — gobbling and drinking with no limits everything forbidden to Cubans, while pretending to the world to be everything they aren’t, laughing at the thousands of families separated by the distance of exile for over half a century.

The mother of his child, along with the Political Police, managed to imprison him on false charges, all of which accusations were not proven, not the guilt of her ex-husband — she never proved that anything happened — rather her own guilt was proved because a false accusation is a crime and harms the reputation of another person. But the mother of his son didn’t manage to turn her son against his father; he is as attached to him as ever. Angel will receive the kiss that his son blows him from a distance, a kiss that will deservedly caress his heart, because for Angel Father’s Day is every day, and his children show how incredibly proud they are of him.

I lost my father many years ago and the best way I can honor him is to live the ethical teachings and principles he passed on to me. I know that he — wherever he is — is proud that I am doing what I’m doing for Angel.

The Editor

Sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

15 June 2014

Reporters Without Borders Alerted To A New Black Spring in Cuba / Angel Santiesteban

 Towards a new Black Spring in Cuba?

Reporters without Borders have expressed their concern for the situation of aggression against Cuban journalists, arbitrary sentences, death threats and barriers to access registered information over the last few days. The press agency and organization for the defense of freedom of expression Hablemos Press has been the target of the hostility of the Department of State Security.

Its founder, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, was a victim of a violent aggression perpetrated by an agent of the National Revolutionary Police on June 11th in Havana.

His wife, Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez, correspondent of Hablemos Press, indicated that she is presently confined to her home without the ability to walk, having suffered an injury to her knee and a broken septum.

Four days earlier, Raul Ramirez Puig, Hablemos Press correspondent in Mayabeque province, was threatened from a vehicle whose occupants warned him that “anything” might happen to him.

The arbitrary detention of journalists is also occurring very frequently on the island. Mario Hechavarria Driggs, who is also a collaborator with the Centre of Information for Hablemos Press, was detained by agents of the Department of State Security on June 8th.

Yeander Farres Delgado, journalism student, was held for questioning while taking pictures of the Havana Capitol Building, headquarters of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. He was released five hours later.

“Despite the apparent political opening of the Castro regime, the methods used by the authorities to silence dissident journalists are every time more brutal,” said Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders. “Since the last journalist detained during the ’Black Spring’ was released, in 2011, we are witnessing a reinforcement of the repression,” he added.

Hablemos Press denounced, this past June 11, the multiple death threats they have received in the last two months. Journalist Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez received several calls to the newsroom of Hablemos Press. Later, on June 12, she was cited by Department of State Security agents, who pressed her to change the tone of the articles she posts in the information center, which displease the Castro regime.

The Cuban authorities — via the state-owned telecommunications company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) — have even blocked the mobile phones of Roberto de Jesus Guerra, Magaly Novis Otero Suarez, and their colleague Arian Guerra (they were disconnected from the island’s sole network), to prevent them from communicating with each other.

“What is happening with the right to information if Havana suppresses telephone communication at will, while the use of the Internet is so limited on the island?” asks Camille Soulier, head of the Americas division of Reporters Without Borders. “We ask the Cuban state that it reestablish without delay the telephone line of the Hablemos Press journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders also laments the detention conditions of independent journalist Juliet Michelena Diaz, held April 7 in Havana and accused initially of “threats against a neighbor in Centro Habana” and later of “attempt” (the charges against her changed within a week). Her trial is still pending.

Also imprisoned is Yoenni de Jesus Guerra Garcia, Yayabo Press journalist, detained in October of 2013 and condemned in March of 2014 to seven years in jail. The blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats, jailed since February 28, 2013 on trumped-up charges, is among the 100 “heroes of information” published by Reporters Without Borders.

Cuba is in last place among the countries of the Americas – and 170 out of 180 countries worldwide – in Reporters Without Borders’ current “Freedom of the Press” tally. Read more here.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy. Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

16 June 2014

Lilo, An Artist Who Fed Himself From Misery / Angel Santiesteban

Lilo Vilaplana

Lilo Vilaplana


When I began working in Cuban television, in the second half of the eighties of the past century, the first person they introduced me to was Lilo Vilaplana. He was already a star Assistant Director and they assigned him to teach me, in practice, his expertise.

We immediately became good friends, and friendship flowered as if an elf had taken us by the hand. I joined the post-production of a children’s series directed by Roberto Villar, and we would begin to produce an adventure fantasy written by the brilliant writer Daina Chaviano.

In the serial edition, we could see from our booth how they accommodated the trial of the Number One Cause of General Arnaldo Ochoa. I remember that our editor was famous for being one of the best in the trade, and he recognized that the soldier who was doing it in the other booth was excellent.

For example, in the scenes where the Republic’s Prosecutor or Raul Castro spoke to Ochoa directly, he replaced his angry face, sometimes his ironic smile, and showed him tired, jaded and perhaps even drugged, making him appear ashamed of what the Prosecutor or Raul said to him, like someone who recognized that he had made a mistake, and he deserved it.

That which I lived together with Lilo — and which maybe was the first injustice that we attended as witnesses — was a seed of rebellion. We swallowed that, and — in our youth, at 20 — maybe had awakened our consciences. Almost thirty years later, those beginnings have made us more deeply know the pride of being friends, in spite of geographical distances.

I remember those years of human and artistic development, where we shared his theater works and my stories. Taken by the hand by the persevering elf, we went to propose characters to Lili Renteria, to Jacqueline Arenal, who rejected one princess character because she preferred to be the witch.

Once, in the “Aquelarre” Humor Festivals, I was with my partner trying to gain access and, when it seemed that it was impossible because of all the people who were still outside, I saw Lilo passing in a line of five people who made way among the tumult contained by police and ropes.

I called to him, and he stopped with a smile that even now — remembering it — moves me; I had to say nothing else, he took me by the arm and put me ahead of him.

He was always giving like this; I believe that the hardships we have experienced have placed us on the same side, that I have always recognized that I had a childhood full of poverty, my mother — alone — raised five children and sometimes we had to go to school with holes in our shoes, or in the winters, we stayed in the house because we had no coats.

Scene from "The Death of the Cat" with Albertico Pujol

Scene from “The Death of the Cat” with Albertico Pujol


I wil never forget that Lilo, when he decided to become an artist, the first thing that he understood is that he could not achieve his dreams in his native and beloved Nuevitas, so “maddened,” he arrived in Havana without knowing anyone; that was the great course of his life, since he slept in the funeral home or sneaked into hotel pools in order to bathe.

His first great triumph was to get work in the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT); his second triumph was to rent in the building adjoining the Cathedral in Old Havana. It was a small room without either bath or kitchen, which he celebrated as if he lived in a small palace.

Entering that citadel was like arriving at a giant anthill. The bathroom was collective, and Lilo told me that when the women bathed, their husbands had to protect them so that they were not seen. The citadel that Lilo recreates in his short “The Death of the Cat,” was based on that where he lived, very close to his friend Raul Guerra, where he took me once to listen to his mastery; there also I met his daughter, who was at that time in that interval of leaving childhood and entering adolescence, and who later would become that excellent writer who today is Wendy Guerra.

Lilo Vilaplana, Director

Lilo Vilaplana, Director

All this preamble in the life of Lilo was knitting or rather soldering his bones, those stories that — at times — you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, because he passes through the so extreme social dramas that Cubans — and so artists imitate it — tinge with humor, in order to avoid melodrama, and which serve as a safety valve, letting pressure escape.

All those human pressures, sadnesses and miseries with which Lilo coexisted served him — besides feeding and strengthening his creation — to — for the second time — arrive at an unfamiliar city, also in a foreign country, and in Lilo’s case, overcome all the obvious obstacles for any immigrant who, by luck, arrived with two suitcases, one of a trade and the other of talent.

Angle Santiesteban-Prats
Lawton Prison Settlement, June 2014

Translated by MLK

Being In Prison is Worth It / Angel Santiesteban

Cartoon by Garrincha: 

“Excuse me, but we have a writer who they say beat his wife. Of course there is talk about him.”

“Dude, do I look like a marriage counselor or something?”

“It’s just that this writer is a dissident, you know?”

“Where is that abuser?!”

Seated in the door of my cabaña, many people ask me if it’s worth being a prisoner, and without doubt I say yes.

Here inside I see the internal and profound face of a society submerged in the horror of survival. Furthermore, it permits me to do a unique sociological study; it’s an exceptional experience. Seen in this way the suffering of confinement doesn’t hurt. To this I add the use of time spent in reading and writing.

I am sure that with my imprisonment the government, and particularly the Castro brothers, are the ones who have been harmed the most, because they left in evidence the credibility of the “reforms” that they wish to sell. They showed how they try to deceive the world in order to obtain financing for the ruined Cuban economy.

My truth and my rights are my armor, and with that I feel invincible before the dictatorship; I also add my illusion that one day I’ll know who planned to silence and humble me, which, no doubt was thought up by Raul Castro and his son, Alejandro, after my first “Open letter to Raul Castro,” which I wrote in November 2012. Also I’ll know who covered up the order, and those who have been willing accomplices in the cultural milieu, and even those who – inside the same opposition – made a pact of silence in exchange for some privilege.

What will be infallible is that sooner or later, all the truth that today we can’t even imagine will be known. Then it will be like opening a book and seeing peoples’ souls. That is my awesome tranquility, and like the Arab, I sit in the door of my cabaña hoping to see the cadaver of my enemies pass by. If before this I have to pay with my life, I shall equally hope for it, because they will purge my death.

What’s certain is that – in one way or another – they won’t escape paying for their injustice to me and to the hundreds of activists who they have beaten, imprisoned and assassinated. The Castros know that this moment is inevitable, and for that reason they are working now. They are pretending to make a transition that apparently satisfies “everybody” when Raul Castro leaves power, but they are leaving secure the threads that move the country, in politics and economics, to avoid being judged for crimes against humanity.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. May 2014.

Follow the link to ask Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by Regina Anavy

9 June 2014

Carolos Alberto Montaner: Someday God Will Awaken / Angel Santiesteban

I thank Neo Club Editions, Armando Anel and Idabell, his wife; Barcardi House of the University of Miami and the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, and the Alexandria Library for the opportunity to present this excellent novel by Angel Santiesteban Prats, The Summer that God Slept, winner of the Franz Kafka literary prize, Novels Genre 2013.

I want to especially mention the writer Amir Valle who, at the time, called to my attention Santiesteban’s human and professional quality revealing to me an exceptional writer.  Amir’s devotion to Santiesteban and his generous solidarity is good proof that communism has not been able to destroy the ties of friendship, although it has tried to control the emotional life of Cubans.

Repression as general punishment and intimidation

Santiesteban is a magnificent Cuban narrator, born in 1966.  He was incarcerated by the dictatorship and condemned to five years in prison, supposedly for a crime of domestic violence that was never proved. In reality, what they punished were his criticisms of the system and his confrontation with the regime. The accusation was only the formal alibi to hide political repression.

Naturally, the Cuban regime hides its repressive hand behind the supposed independence of a judicial power that in Cuba is only another feared expression of the apparatus of terror.

If the Castro regime, really, felt that it should pursue those guilty of great atrocities, and if it did not use the tribunals selectively in order to harass its adversaries, it would have severely punished commander Universo Sanchez when he shot to death an inconvenient neighbor. Or it would have initiated a responsible investigation into the assassination of dozens of innocents on the tug boat March 13th. Or it would have delved seriously into the accusation made by Angel Carromero about the probable execution of Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero in July 2012, to mention only three cases among the hundreds of unpunished crimes and abuses that Cubans have had to endure.

I have seen, lived and suffered enough to know that the dictatorship invariably lies about the nature of its adversaries. It accuses them of being terrorists, CIA agents, alcoholics, traitors, or, as in this case, even of domestic violence, in order not to have to assume an unpleasant truth: they use defamation, acts of repudiation, beatings, jail and, sometimes, the firing squad, to reign in critical people who have the audacity of saying what they think.

At the same time, those maltreated by word or deed sow terror with the objective of making an example that will not be spread. It is preventive punishment. They strike so that others will lower their heads.

Repression in Cuba, well, it has two clear purposes that Lenin was already recommending at the beginning of the Bolshevik revolution: punish those guilty of deviating from the official line and intimidate the rest of the population. They are, of course, the same mafia methods converted into government measures.

That process of destruction of the reputation of the dissident or of the simply disaffected, especially if dealing with a famed intellectual, is always the prelude to jail or physical aggression. It begins with the insult and evolves into a savage kicking, ostensible and public, aimed at “giving him a lesson” so that he does not dare to contradict the sacred gospels of the tribe of thugs who occupy power.

Angel Santiestebal has gone through all this. They have beaten him, defamed him, they have tried futilely to silence him, but what they have managed is to convert his case into what is called “a cause celebre” that has awakened the attention of half the world.

Something similar to what, in the past, happened to Heberto Padilla, Jose Mario, Armando Valladares, Jorge Valls, Angel Cuadra, Reinaldo Arenas, Rene Ariza, Hector Santiago, Maria Elena Cruz Varela, Juan Manuel Cao, or Raul Rivero, and to so many other writers and artists who suffered various forms of the same ordeal.

The novel and the escape

The Summer That God Slept tells of the flight of a group of Cubans on board a raft. The narrator relates, almost always in the first person, the ups and downs of the trip, and describes the characters who accompany him from the time they embark on the Cuban coast, full of dreams, until they return to the island, on board a ship of the US Navy which takes them to the Guantanamo camps where an uncertain destiny awaits them.

In this case, the eventful journey is less important that the author’s disquisitions on Cuban history and the failed communist government.  It is interesting to note a frequent presence in the novelist’s reflections: Jose Marti. Santiesteban, like so many Cubans, rightly, venerates Marti and uses his life and work as ideal and measure by which to judge what is happening on the Island.

The story is strong and dramatic for two reasons. The first, because thousands of Cubans have died of drowning or being devoured by sharks and barracudas in the seas near Cuba trying to escape from the communist system. That is to say, Santiesteban, in his fiction, which has so much of reality, gives a powerful voice to those thousand of victims. His novel, although the author has not proposed it, has a very important historical component.

How many Cubans have died in the attempt?  They are dozens of thousands.  It is not known exactly, but they are many.  Some speak of 75,000, others double that. Without doubt, many more than those who have died in combat in all the wars fought on the Island since Colombus set foot at the end of the 15th century.  And if they are not more, it is because Jose Basulto conceived and put in the air Brothers to the Rescue in order to help the rafters, until the dictatorship destroyed two of the unarmed airplanes that flew above international waters, killing four people who were just trying to help their fellow countrymen in danger of death.

The second reason that this novel is of notable importance is the theme of the relentless exodus of Cubans.  Why or rather from what do they flee, if since the 18th, 19th and very particularly the 20th centuries, until the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, the Island had been a net receiver of hundreds of thousand of immigrants, to the point of being the American nation that received the most foreigners in relation to its population?  (More, proportionally, than Argentina and the United States).

They flee the lack of freedom, translated into lack of opportunity.  Successive generations of Cuban residents always perceived the promising experience of living better than their parents and grandparents, something that they routinely achieved.

Until the Comandantes arrived, mandated that the dreams of prosperity stop and imposed on Cubans a system of government that impedes the creation of wealth, is incapable of maintaining infrastructure, and destroys accumulated fiscal capital, as is observed in those cities devastated by the unmitigated stupidity of Castro-ism.

When you are born in Cuba, you know that, as much as you may study or try, you will not be able to improve your quality of life because the system prevents it. That is why Cuba is the only country in the world from which engineers, doctors, writers and all those who yearn to do something constructive with their lives and undertake a lucrative activity to achieve their own well being and that of their families escape on rafts, risking death.

They flee also the lying and tiresome discourse that tries to justify more than half a century of social failures with heroic references to violent activities that lost all connection with the young generation.

What the hell does the remote battle of Uvero — a shootout elevated to the category of epic combat — or Che’s disastrous adventure in Bolivia mean for some young kids who want to have fun and normal lives that permit them to spread their wings and pursue their individual dreams?

And when they achieve it, when finally, they have managed to emigrate, they experience another facet of the horror:  The State, that rancorous communist dictatorship bent on harming those who have fled and harassing and mortifying those who have stayed, denies them access to the academic titles that they legitimately acquired, sells them documents at exorbitant prices, describes them as scum or worms, treats them as enemies, and intends that the host country keep them in a legal limbo so that they cannot make their way.

While the rest of the nations of Latin America ask the United States to protect their undocumented citizens with such legal measures as the Law of Adjustment that protects Cubans when they touch US soil, the miserable State forged by the Castros tries to repeal such legislation.  Not satisfied with the damage inflicted on Cubans when they live on the Island, it tries to prolong their suffering in exile, creating for them difficulties so that they cannot adequately develop.

Nothing of what is said here is different from what is quietly muttered by Cuban intellectuals who have not been able to or desired to seek exile, including many of those miserable ones who sign letters in UNEAC to support the tyranny or to applaud executions, pressured by the political police.

That’s why a voice like that of Angel Santiesteban Prats is so uncomfortable.  Each time that a writer on the Island — and I think of Padilla, Maria Elena Cruz Varela, Antonio Jose Ponte, Raul Rivero, Yoani Sanchez, Ivan Garcia, and so many others — dares to describe reality without fear or swallowing the fear, their cowardly colleagues are victims of the disagreeable phenomenon of moral dissonance.  They think one thing but say another, while they applaud what, really, deep in their hearts, repels them.  The regime has managed to domesticate them, they know it, and they live with that annoying imprint that shackles always leave.

In the end, it must be very sad to live always masked officiating in the temple of the double standard.  Angel Santiesteban Prats freed himself from that ignominy and wrote, in order to test it, a splendid book.  Someday God will awaken, and he will come out of his cell.  Thousands of readers await him thankful to give him the embrace that he deserves.

Published in NeoClubPress.

Translated by mlk.

4 June 2014

Amir Valle, the Apple of theDiscord / Angel Santiesteban

He was introduced to me in 1986, in a meeting of young writers that I attended, invited as an observer, in the Alejo Carpentier Center. I believe I was the last writer who arrived at the then so-called “Generation of the Newest.” There I knew those who later would be my brothers in the profession, and we would share literary, existential and family conflicts.

Jorge Luis Arzola was as thin as a thread of water; his shyness was complete and competed with his naivety. Their first images are those that I’ve always remembered. They remain frozen in my memory: Guillermo Vidal, Jose Mariano Torralbas, Alberto Garrido, Daniel Morales, among others.

Amir came to Havana to finish his journalism studies, which made us closer. He brought that form of rebellion of the literary group, ” Six of eighty,” that State Security, at such early ages, had added to their black list, and they were persecuted, interrogated, and their families were summoned before the Political Police. They were marginalized from literary activities in the province. Once you show your dissent, they never forgive you, although they dissimilate and even smile.

Amir was watched since that time and they never trusted him; they stayed on alert, suffering his literary triumphs, his prolific work.

The writers of preceding generations warned us. In particular, they told me that I shouldn’t trust Amir, that he was not my friend, that he was deceitful, that surely he would betray me, and even his condition of being from Santiago served them to sow discord.

Amir left the country — or they made him leave — and for his political detractors it was a relief. He never stopped contacting us, keeping up with our lives and experiences. In an interview of me that Amir did for his digital magazine, “Otro lunes,” (Another Monday) he raised hives among Cuban officials, and some told me about his nonconformity, but always dropping a hint that he wanted to harm me.

When I opened my blog he appeared very worried. He told me, “Be careful about what will happen, little brother.” He supported me at each terrible accusation, and we suffered together, like brothers do.

From my entrance into prison, Amir has kept representing me and promoting my books, and has taken care of every detail that has to do with my person; and in a great irony, those who betrayed me were those who counseled me to be careful of my brother writer. What’s sad is that they did it out of fear and to obtain benefits, because I heard what they thought of the Regime, and I am sure they are more radical that I am.

That’s the sad reality of the Cuban intellectuals, and at the same time, the immense happiness I have to be able to count on a brother like Amir Valle Ojeda.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. May 2014.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy
2 June 2014

Answer To Those Who Don’t Accept the Embargo / Angel Santiesteban

A public letter addressed to President Obama with the intention of lifting the embargo or, at least, lessening it, has been signed by figures who demonstrate that Human Rights on the Island do not matter to them at all.

For some, shame means a check with several zeros. I cannot hide that it fills me with consternation that there exist people in this world who defend the dictatorship although I suspect that those who do it do not think of anything more than economic gain, perks or future payments for political “lobbying” services. One way or another, it means the same thing for ethics and humanity. Their shameless acts rival each other for the championship of the most cynical.

No one with honor can raise his voice to strengthen the tyranny of the Castro brothers, which — for more than a half a century — has sunk our country into misery. They cannot hide behind the apparent good intention of “helping the Cuban people” when we know that absolutely nothing will improve in our reality; to the contrary, as the totalitarian regime is strengthened, the same will occur with the iron yoke that they exert over the people, repression and assassinations of dissident leaders will increase. That is the only thing that they will achieve if they raise or lessen the embargo on the Castro family.

To those to whom it does not matter then, sign and protect the Cuban dictatorship.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  May 2014

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

Translated by: Michaela Klicnikova and mlk.

29 May 2014

New Prize for Angel Santiesteban

Miami: Presentation of Ángel Santiesteban’s novel also includes a tribute to him

Bacardi House, Rosa Blanca Institute, Chef Paella, Connect Cuba, Neo Club Editiones, Green Designs and Alexandria Library welcome to the presentation held on Tuesday, 3 June at 6 pm, of the book by Ángel Santiesteban-Prats called The Summer God Slept awarded the 2013 Franz Kafka Novels From the Drawer Prize.

The novel will be presented by the writers Carlos Alberto Montaner and Antonio Correa Iglesias in the Bacardi House in 1531 Brescia Avenue, Coral Gables (Miami Fl 33124). At the event, the journalist and presenter Karen Caballero will deliver a monetary prize, provided by the second edition of the culture project JOVENAJE, to Ángel Santiesteban’s sister María de los Ángeles Santiesteban who will receive the prize on behalf of her brother.

Between 6 pm and 7 pm the organizers will offer refreshments and tapas. Following this, at 7 pm, the presentation of the novel and activities of JOVENAJE will take place.

JOVENAJE is an independent itinerant event dedicated to paying homage to working writers, cultural promoters and artists. Ángel Santiesteban, dissident writer whose work has been acknowledged for its significance at the national as well as international level, was imprisoned a year ago in Cuba and has been sentenced to five years in a rigged trial. Reporters without Borders included him to the list of 100 Information Heroes.

In Cuba, where the separation of public powers doesn’t exist, judicial structures are only a mere appendix of the political power. In the last years, the Cuban government has resorted to creating false but well-known cases in order to increase the number of political prisoners on the Island without the risk of facing international campaigns for amnesty or unfavorable states of opinions. Santiesteban-Prats is one of the major victims of this new kind of repression.

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Please sign to ask Amnesty International to declare Ángel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy, Michaela Klicnikova

21 May 2014