I Know the Writer Angel Santiesteban Whom Cuba Wants to Punish

[This text is from the website Incredible Universe]

Manuel Fernández reveals in Incredible Universe how, when he met the Cuban writer Angel Santiesteban, State Security recorded the conversation.

A Spanish citizen, Fernández was the manager, at that time, of one of the hotels in Havana.

A few days ago we talked to him about the regime’s campaign against Santiesteban and he was inspired to recount to us what happened at that time, a sincere testimony about the struggle for life.

These are the words of Manuel Fernandez. He lives in Spain. He continues to admire the Cuban intellectual and warns of the government’s maneuvers to totally silence him by sending him to prison.

Testimony of Manuel Fernández Manero

I met Angel Santiesteban like most of his current best friends, through his books.  Through someone I can’t remember, his books came to me, and I then decided to meet him. His literature overwhelmed me, but especially his knowledge of the Cuban reality.

In Cuba I was devoted to tourism, I was the manager of the Deauville Hotel, and could rub shoulders with all strata of society, knowing that many wouldn’t risk talking in the light of day for fear of the consequences.

I told a mutual friend I wanted to meet him, I wanted to talk with that writer who scoffed at the canons established by the system. Writing in this raw way within the system was certain suicide.

Honestly, I imagined someone half crazy with the airs of an alien, but above all with talent and determined to write the Cuban reality and that was what interested me.

When I met him he wasn’t what I’d imagined. He conversed calmly and the whole time it seemed to me that he knew what he wanted, where he wanted to go. We talked of common themes: literature, society, ideology, the dictatorship, the future of Cuba.

And at that time — it was six years ago — Santiesteban was pessimistic about a democratic solution in the coming years, because in those years, in Cuba and in the world, there was little evidence of the Castro brothers abandoning power. He said no, they adjusted to the times.

He assured me that Fidel Castro had become a specialist in playing for time and in manipulation. All he wanted was not to lose power. At times he seemed disposed to make concessions, to appear to be preparing the changes the country needed, particularly for democracy.

And time has proved Angel right. Fidel and Raul are still in the same place after more than fifty years, feigning change to gain the time necessary to ensure “tranquility” for the rest of their lives. This supposed “tranquility” is nothing more than continuing in government, betting on Alejandro and Mariela Castro, Raul’s children, as the racehorses they’ve allowed to play a different game, a measuring stick to gauge the desires and wishes of the Cuban people. And at the same time to save their fortunes and to gain time to get their family members out of the country.

I said goodbye to Angel, assuring him I would return in a few days, and even promised to bring him a book by the journalist Jose Manuel Medem who had recently ended his contract as a reporter in Cuba for Spanish Television.

I couldn’t return, they didn’t let me return. I learned that State Security had recorded my conversation with Angel that first time we’d met and that I was definitely not welcome in Cuba.

Since then I’ve followed Santiesteban’s life, thanks to email, and after they closed down his account we sustained our conversation on Facebook, which is like sitting at home carrying on a natural conversation.

I have supported Angel in the advocacy campaigns every time they’ve abused him. I have always been at his side and always will be. It’s a promise that I made to him and to my son. I will never abandon him.

Every outrage has been a pain in my own flesh. I suffer it double because I want to be in his skin, to receive these injuries in his place, I can’t be at his side physically to ease it every time State Security decides to hurt him.

My cry for Angel goes out from Spain to every corner of the world, I do it for our brotherhood, my family has already accepted him as one of us, very special of course; but I also do it for the intellectual that he is, for his work and for the need Cuban culture has that he continue to develop his talent and enrich the literary landscape.

Also for the natural fighter that he carries within, for all he sacrifices so that Cubans can be free and obtain the rights defended by the Constitution of the Human Rights Organization of the United Nations.

Of course we are worried about the General Prosecutor of the Republic’s request for 15 years for Angel, we know that it is a campaign, first to intimidate him, and then to discredit him internationally so that his denunciations in his blog will not be believed.

They know that Angel is a strong writer, that he has made his talent into a powerful weapon against the system. And for this they try to destroy him, to make him give way with these dirty media tricks.

Angel is going to continue writing his blog with the same strength with which he began it. He is going to continue to delight us with his literature. We will not allow him to be imprisoned. These are the convictions with which we support him and with which we will do everything within our power, and more, because justice must prevail once and for all, the Castro dictatorship must understand that there are men who can overcome fear.

Manuel Fernández Manero

September 28 2011

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