“Angel Santiesteban is going to jail, and no one says anything.”


Whoever is a friend, never
leaves him in the lurch,
but doesn’t ask him for anything
or expect everything from him:
always the most loyal friend
is honorable conduct.

Jose Hernandez

Where are you Knight (dashing ones?)?

Published by Amir Valle/Published in De Literature/Published 01-30-2013

Angel Santiesteban is going to jail.  So simple.

The Cuban judicial system shows, once more, that justice does not exist for those who think differently than Raul Castro who clearly is trying to become a Chinese dictator, which is to say, deceptively combining supposed economic and social reforms with greater repression.  The fools, idiots and dreamers of good and bad faith who so abound in our world will open their mouths amazed in the face of the “reforms” and shut them once more in the face of repression.

angel2Angel Santiesteban is going to jail and no one is saying anything.

Circulating on the internet are all the proofs that demonstrate his innocence, all the videos where the witnesses confess that they were forced to testify against Angel, to lie in order to create an image of the writer as an offender.  And until this moment I have not seen any of the intellectuals who proclaim themselves champions of justice publicly speak against a manuever so dirty, so low. Their names do not appear, not even to comment on the numerous articles in defense that other people have published these days, since the Cuban judicial system condemned this outstanding writer to five years in jail.

Why do I insist that the intellectuals speak?

1.  Because the strategy of the government has been to try to criminalize a writer who has earned all his country’s literary prizes through a work that is recognized nationally and internationally.  And to accuse as criminals thinkers and creators of contrary ideas over whom they wield power has been and continues to be a strategy of dictators whether on the right or the left.

2.  Because Cuba has a prolific and heroic tradition where intellectuals set the course of history, defined social strategies, channeled social thought and now have an opportunity to show that we are not, as they assure many parts of the world, “sheep who bleat to the rhythm of the batons of the dictators, the Castro brothers.”

3.  Because outside of Cuba there are hundreds of prestigious intellectuals who personally know or have read the work of Angel Santiesteban and now have the opportunity to show that in truth, as some say, they raise their voices against injustice wherever it is committed.  And in this case they would be supporting a colleague, someone who may have ideological differences but is not a fundamentalist who sows terror, is not a corrupt politician, is not a heartless banker. . . he is just a writer who writes the hard daily truth about his country in his books and on his blog.

4.  Because before the writer Angel Santiesteban, by work and grace of cultural and political repression, was metamorphosed from a butterfly into a caterpillar, as I have written in another article, many of those Cuban and foreign writers proclaimed themselves “brothers,” and it was normal to hear them praise the “beautiful innocence of Angelito,” “the immense humanity of Angel,” “that heart with legs that is Angel,” “the loyalty of Angel with his friends, a proof of everything…”


These “reasons” are four, do you notice;  and it is on purpose because each deserves an answer:

1.  The answer is required by the fact that the dictator Raul Castro, who only; some blind men and opportunists see as “a step forward” if he is compared with the era of Fidel’s government, keeps using the intellectuals (those of the left, precisely from Havana) like the most perfect machinery of support for a dictatorship that each day attacks the freedoms that those intellectuals say they defend.  It is time they get rid of the giant, putrid ballast and clean their consciences.

2.  A resounding answer to the arbitrariness of condemning a writer “in the free and sovereign Cuba of Raul Castro” is necessary.  It is time that Cuban artists and writers living on the island unite to defend the rights of someone like Angel Santiesteban, someone who (in case the proofs circulating on the internet are not enough) they know well enough to know that he is not that criminal to whom an official of the State Security (agent Camilo) announced “are the five years in jail that we’re going to give you not enough?” weeks before the tribunals (who say they act independently of the political police) handed down (oh, coincidence!) that same sentence: 5 years.  Where are they right now, all those that put together the national and international racket when they saw that Cuban television was paying homage to two old repressors?  All those that swore to be ready to do whatever so that the “gray five years” do not return to Cuba — where are their pronouncements in favor of the right of Angel Santiesteban to think and write differently?

Eduardo Heras León (al centro) y Francisco López Sacha (a la derecha) junto a Ángel Santiesteban (entre Heras y Sacha) cuando todavía eran "hermanos".

Eduardo Heras Leon (center) and Francisco Lopez Sacha (on the right) with Angel Santiesteban (between Heras and Sacha) when they were still “brothers.”

3. It requires a damning answer from many of those writers and intellectuals who spend a good part of their time following the news of what happens in Cuba (many of whom are familiar with the writer Angel Santiesteban or his work) is necessary.  In order to be coherent in the discourse that they usually put forward in their blogs, in their articles or interviews in the press, it is time that they condemn the “criminal blockade” of the United States against Cuba, just as they condemn the disastrous policies of the current Spanish government and the European Union, just as they support the hunger strike by a writer that in Spain honorably decided to fast in order to support a fellow countryman unjustly jailed, just as they openly criticize the attacks on liberties and human rights that they are committing in Spain and other European countries, or just as they condemn the attack against what was achieved in their countries in material social well-being, they also should pronounce against the disastrous and inefficient policies of the dictatorship in Cuba against liberties and human rights of its citizens, as is made evident, once again, in this absurd and unjust sentence against Angel Santiesteban; someone who, to be sure, also undertook a hunger strike seeking his own liberty (without any of these “righteous intellectuals of the left” supporting the campaign that we launched denouncing his illegal and arbitrary arrest in which, also, he was savagely beaten, as we demonstrated with photos); not to say that many seem to forget, when they defend any of the makeup strategies that the dictatorship achieves in facing the world, that for millions of Cubans on the island the words “social well-being” sound like science fiction.

4.  Finally, it is necessary that those who have been quite close to Angel Santiesteban for almost thirty years now and who today are in positions of power or influence or have sufficient relationships to be able to prevent the incarceration of Angelito, the writer, your “brother” until recently, someone with whom you shared happiness and sadness, terrible moments and glorious ones — it is necessary that they give an answer.

I have sworn many times not to write in my critical articles the name of any colleague, friend or former friend.  I have kept that oath, except in the case of my public criticisms against the immorality of the most immoral and opportunistic of Cuban writers:  Miguel Barnet, who also should do himself the favor of pronouncing his support of Angel Santiesteban who by no coincidence is a member of UNEAC, the institution over which Barnet presides.

But now I break that oath and, in order to cite only those in Cuba I know that were joined in brotherhood with Angel Santiesteban, I ask:  “Where are you now, Abel Prieto,  you who so many times mentioned Angel as the best story writer of my generation and, on two occasions in front of me, lauded the great human that he is?

Where are you now, Eduardo Heras Leon, you who spent entire years speaking of the need to make ethics and truth the only valid condition for fueling our lives and our works with the hallmark of literary and human authenticity?

Where are you now, Francisco Lopez Sacha, you who know well how clean, how humble, how big is the heart of Angel Santiesteban?  I can mention others, but I leave it at that.  It would only suffice for you three to sit down and talk (as on other occasions you colluded in noble and ignoble actions and now more than one of you is on the side of the dictator, you, Abel) in order to prevent them from throwing Angel Santiesteban behind bars.

I know that Angel would try to convince me that you have no other option but to remain quiet, look away, and make yourselves deaf.  I know that he would pardon you if you lift not a finger in his favor, even in the most difficult moments in that prison that today threatens his life.  But believe me, everyone, writers, artists, intellectuals of the island or anywhere else, alluded to in these words, if Angel Santiesteban has to complete even a day of that unjust sentence due to silence from fear or convenience, I know that as long as I think of your names, your professional careers, your books written and yet to be written, I will find as my answer those worthy words that the great Eliseo Diego pronounced before the outrages that the people of our town began to live because of the power-sick madness of those politicians who today misgovern Cuba:  “May God forgive you, I cannot.”

Published in Amir Valle Blog

Translated by mlk

January 30 2013


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