Havana, Cuba, April 3, 2013
“… justice is like a serpent, a viper, that never bites the boots,
it only bites the barefoot.”
Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero
Archbishop of San Salvador, murdered in 1980.
Your Holiness Francisco, first of all I want to thank God, for your devotion and faith, you who have been designated the first Pope, for other merits, Latin American, for the pride of those born on this continent; so it is somehow impossible not to consider you closer and more earthly, for your own Latino people.
Holy Father, I confess that since the loss of my beloved Pope John Paul II, my tie to Catholicism has dimmed, but You, despite the few days you have sat in your humble papal chair, you have practiced that modesty that elevates and exalts, which has already revolutionized the universal church.
Your Beatitude, I write from a prison in Cuba, where I am serving a wrongful conviction for a crime that could not be proved, for opening a critical blog from which I write on behalf of social justice, a penalty that has the sole purpose of teaching me a lesson,although they have not been able to silence my voice, but my heart will not let me cry in my favor, I prefer, I need, I am urged to seek justice for Prisoners of Conscience who suffer in Cuban jails.
Supreme Pontiff, the situation being experienced by our island is already known and unacceptable in the twenty-first century, to paraphrase our beloved Pope John Paul II, to not open itself to the world, to not even open its blinds to plural national thinking, as should correspond to any civilized nation in the world.
Messenger of Peace, we are prisoners because we overcome the fear; the need to be heard made us take off the gag, so we have faced the punishment of the dictatorship, which unfortunately holds to maintain silence and its discipline, attacking with imprisonment, beatings and the mysterious deaths of opposition leaders.
Your Grace, in this prison where I live with two brothers in the struggle: Lamberto Hernández Planas and Pedro de la Caridad Alvarez Pedroso, who have spent 22 years in prison, more than half of their lives, without having committed acts of bloodshed, without having hurt a human being; also suffering imprisonment are a married couple, Sonia Garro Alfonso and her husband Ramon Alejandro Munoz, who have not harmed anyone, only their ideas have been enough to keep them in jail without cause or conviction; as well as Calixto Martinez, for his journalism. But they are not unique; like them there are many throughout the country’s prison system.
Universal Pastor, my voice was one that opposed the last visit of Pope Benedict XVI, because I felt that was a mockery of the Vatican, as the Cuban government took advantage of his kindness and good intentions, and every papal visit only adds a false recognition before humanity, especially when Cuban representatives of the church that you represent ignores the Cuban opposition as a political force.
Dear Pope, José Martí, the Cuban most universal, addressing a soldier wrote on October 20, 1884: “A people is not founded, General, in the same way that one commands a military camp,” and the current governing Nomenklatura Cuba accepts no position different from the militarized.
We ask you, as Vicar of Christ, that do not rub against the manipulations of the Castro brothers, exercised for more than half a century since the beginnings of their nefarious power in 1959. With humility, we pray that you be elusive to their antichrist offerings. For the Cuban people it is not enough that we have have the holy days returned to us. We need freedom, “Which can not be anything other than freedom to think differently,” (Rosa Luxemburg), and that they accept and respect once again the Universal Human Rights.
Bishop of Rome, I have the hope that your papal administration will bring peace for Cubans. So that then, one Cuba united, without hatred or pain, will give you the spontaneous welcome no Pope has received on this soil.
Humbly I beg of you,
Ángel Santiesteban Prats
La Lima Prison
* This letter was written by Ángel on April 3 when he had not yet been illegally and forcefully transferred to La Lima prison. It was just delivered yesterday April 24 at the headquarters of the Nunciature in Havana.
Today, April 25, Angel continues in the strict regime prison in 1580. The reason for his transfer was to prevent his being interviewed by the Commission of National and International Journalists who visited the center on April 9. This visit was one of many performances organized by the Castro regime to deceive the world about what really happens in their prisons, authentic concentration camps. Three weeks before the UN Human Rights Commission meets in Geneva and submits a report on the Castro government which will include aspects of prison policy, the committee of journalists — without the least ethical principles — counting on the complicit silence with all the human rights violations committed by the dictatorship. The UN Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva, now has in its hands the possibility to remedy such an affront to the dignity committed by the journalists. In a few days we will know if they will.
25 April 2013