Monthly Archives: April 2013

URGENT: Reporters Without Borders Ask for Immediate Release of Angel Santiesteban

Call for the release of the blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats, imprisoned two months ago.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Cuban authorities to release Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, writer and author of the blog The Children Nobody Wanted, who was imprisoned on February 28, 2013, as soon as possible. The prisoner, currently on hunger strike, was placed in solitary confinement when he was transferred to [another] prison in early April.

“The same day that the authorities agreed to release the dissident journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, Angel Santiesteban-Prats was transferred to Prison 1850 and placed under a maximum severity. This detention is both absurd and cruel. The authorities, who believe that this will set an example, can never prevent pluralistic expression among the population. Ángel Santiesteban-Prats should be released without delay,” said Reporters Without Borders, which continues to encourage the blogger to end his hunger strike.

“The Cuban government, which in January 2013 assumed the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), fails to meet its international commitments on matters of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Member countries of CELAC should remind it of this requirement,” the organization added.

The blogger, who was transferred on 9 April to Prison 1850 in San Miguel del Padron (Havana), began a hunger strike shortly after he arrived at the prison, before they put him in an isolation cell, without light or water. He is only allowed to talk on the phone a few minutes a day. On April 22 Angel Santiesteban-Prats reported that he was assaulted by prison guards. Immobilized he was forced to swallow a stinking liquid that made him sick.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats was sentenced to five years in prison on December 8, 2012, officially for “violation of domicile and injury” following an expedited process. The writer, who has won several major literary awards, had been arrested several times before this final instance, because of his political stance. They redoubled their efforts to harass him since he created his blog, independent and critical of the government.

In addition to Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, there is another “information action” imprisoned in Cuba and that is it is Luis Antonio Torres, an employee of the newspaper Granma, who was arrested in 2011 and sentenced in July to fourteen years in prison for “espionage,” a crime he never committed. Reporters Without Borders is also calling for his swift release.

From Reporters Without Borders

29 April 2013

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Open Letter from Angel Santiesteban to His Holiness Francisco

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
Writer
La Lima Prison
Havana, Cuba

* 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

Angel Santiesteban: Open Letter to the UN Commission on Human Rights*

I write to you from the depths of despair produced by being a prisoner of conscience in one of the horrendous prisons of the Castro brothers. In their hands is the opportunity to impose agony upon an extensive penal population that survives the cruelest famine and physical and psychological torture.

To hide the truth, I was taken on April 9 just before international journalists arrived at La Lima prison. They took me out by the back door and I was taken to another prison, 1580, where they have committed all sorts of outrages and humiliations worthy of Nazi concentration camps.

The lack of food and proper sanitation are the other elements that add up to make this a real prison camp. They violate the most basic rights of human beings and their families. Prisoners live crammed together amid continuing violence.

In recent months there have been two large fires of unexplained causes. Multiple suicides are also a daily part of life in prison.

Upon my arrival, after several days of hunger strike and being put in solitary with no light, no water, no clothes or toiletries, I was attacked by several guards, holding me by my limbs while another squeezed my nostrils shut until I opened my mouth to breathe, and then they put stinking soup in my mouth that choked me; and so, over and over, until I was on the floor completely covered in the food helpless to avoid it.

I want to report to Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Quintana, head of the Havana Province.

I also want to clarify that my situation is not the worst. I would like them to listen to the abused themselves so that they can explain the hell in which they live. I fear not being credible enough to expose the horror and the wickedness that we suffer daily.

The dictatorship must understand once and for all that it is impossible to maintain disastrous power based on the people’s pain.

We beg this to take the testimony firsthand, under full oath, and ask God to put his pitying hands on this country forgotten by the international community, and that they manage to collect the testimonies of prisoners without their being threatened ahead of time, as usual.

We ask that Cuba sign the UN covenants and accept the statements of Human Rights, if not, to take appropriate measures to expel the concert of free nations which aims to live undiscovered barbarism imposed on us.

We are a devastated country which — despite these fifty-four years of slavery — we still dream of becoming a prosperous nation.

Please accept my thanks in advance.

Ángel Santiesteban Prats

Prisión 1580. San Miguel del Padrón, Havana. Cuba.

* The HRC in Geneva, Switzerland, was created by 47 member states on March 15, 2006 in the Assembly of the United Nations, to promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, without distinction of any kind, and in a fair and equitable manner. Along with the Security Council, these are two of the principal organs of the highest level and prestige within the UN system.

23 April 2013

URGENT SOS: Angel Santiesteban forced to swallow a strange liquid that made him feel sick

We just received a very worrying message from Havana from Angel, who so far has told us in other communications that he is being treated badly and is held under severe conditions in Prison 1580.

As we denounced yesterday, they only allow him phone calls of a few minutes, because of which the uncertainty is still greater, as in those few minutes there is not enough time to explain what’s happening.

Right now the information we have is that Angel had asked to eat food and wear clothes that the prison authorities don’t allow, and he is not receiving the letters sent by family and friends.

Today he was able to call — for just a couple of minutes again — and denounced that they held him by his hands and feet and forced him to swallow a strange liquid, and he didn’t know what it was.

Apparently this is a method of reprisal because Angel has not been eating any of the prison food, only the food brought to him from outside: cookies and things like that, very little nourishment.

Today he also asked that we send pants a size smaller than his usual size. And said he didn’t feel well. We don’t know if it is because of what they forced him to drink.

It is no secret to anyone what resources the regime’s assassins have up their sleeves. There are enough denunciations from prisoners who have been made ill by treatment of this kind, some of them gravely so, because they’ve been made to drink strange things.

ALL THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE FOCUSED ON RAUL CASTRO: ONCE MORE WE WANT TO EXPRESS THAT WE HOLD HIM DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE, ALONG WITH HIS HENCHMEN, FOR WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO ANGEL.

Angel is an honest man, a good person, a loving father. No lie from the Regime can change that reality. What they are doing does more damage than they have already done and dispels the doubts in any honest minds who still believe they are not consummate assassins.

We, the families and friends of Angel, will remain here to denounce what is happening to him and to demand that he be immediately returned to La Lima Prison — from where he never should have been removed — and that he be guaranteed the full enjoyment of all of his rights.

22 April 2013

Angel Santiesteban Completes 10th Day on Hunger Strike. Report.

Yesterday, April 16, 2013, the attorney Amelia Rodríguez Cala interviewed Angel in Prison 1580.

Angel has been removed from the punishment cell but remains under very severe conditions and maintains his hunger strike until they respect his rights as a citizen and as a prisoner — whatever happens. He is unjustly imprisoned after a trial fabricated by State Security with the only purpose of silencing and discrediting him as a person and as the great writer he is.

Angel has lost a great deal of weight and today completed day ten without eating or drinking. We fear for his health and his life.

From here we hold Raul Castro responsible for everything that happens to Angel and we demand he be returned to La Lima prison from where — although he shouldn’t be there serving any sentence at all — he should not have been removed against his will and violently.

Every day that Angel is made to pay in the miserable Castro prisons for crimes he never committed, having proved his innocence ad infinitum, will be one more day that the dictatorship demonstrates to the world how it lies about the situation on the Island, and another day that the media learns about how it has misled them about the living conditions within the Castros’ prisons — and of course in the whole Island.

The living conditions in Cuba are miserable and freedom isn’t even a memory;  repression and violence on the part of State Security is our daily bread; the acts of repudiation are the expression of how they manipulate the people to punish the dissidence; the media are mere channels of propaganda; every day more Cubans risk their lives to escape from this island, not wanting to imagine what life is like in the Castro prisons, true concentration camps where they are not human beings, only objects, objectified bodies whom they constantly humiliate, deprive of all rights, and force to live in subhuman conditions and all this in the name of the “humanist” Revolution that the Castro dynasty has ruled over for 54 years.

We demand that Angel be returned to La Lima Prison immediately and that they guarantee ALL his rights.

We hold Raul Castro Ruz directly responsible, for Angel’s safety and integrity and reiterate that the same justice and the same rights that we demand for Angel we demand for all the prisoners in Cuba. And so, one more time, we demand the release of ALL THE POLITICAL PRISONERS.

We remember, Mr. Raul Castro, that when you assumed the presidency of CELAC you promised that you would act “with total fidelity to international law, the Charter of the United nations and the fundamental principles that govern relations between countries.” During your speech of January 28, 2013, you also said, “We reject interference, the threat and use of force, and dedicate ourselves to dialog.” What happened to your promises? You should be ashamed and you should behave in conformance with the commitment you yourself assumed.

The Editor, in the name of Angel’s family and friends.

17 April 2013

Prison Diary XIII. They have dubbed me “Mandela.” I have started to be their hope.

The 5 spies, who committed bloody acts and spied for a foreign country, have not been punished like they do with any prisoner in Cuba. Here they humiliate and constantly harass them.

They, the Castros, say that at the Guantanamo Naval Base they commit horrors, but they don’t say what they know because they commit the same abuses they “denounce” daily.

Here the prisoners swallow nails, springs or pieces of spoons to demand their rights, or at least have the opportunity to explain to someone.

Amused, I always have to laugh and respond to my new name, no matter how many times I tell them to call me Ángel or Political — like they used to — but they have baptized me Mandela. I have begun to be their hope despite finding me isolated, although without them letting the two prisoners who helped me get even to the door of my cell; I’m totally isolated.

I asked for my glasses and they also refused me. The only thing I can do is write on the walls, except that there is less space left, and I’ll have to figure out how to reach the ceiling; I’ll have to do something about it. Writing is a mania, a necessity and a duty. When they searched me on my arrival, twelve guards commanded by Major Erasmus did it.  And I told them that my weapons were in my mind and they couldn’t get them out of there.

I thank God for giving me the protection and constant companion in my lonely hours, but I’m also grateful to be here, they provide me Literature and complaints against the regime.

God, forgive the dictators and their henchmen.

cropped-firma

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
1580 Prison. April 2013.

Editor’s Note: Ángel Santiesteban-Prats finishes on his ninth day of a hunger strike today.

God Inc.

Dios SA

1

From Monday the 8th at 7pm. With0ut water, nor clothes, nor toiletries, without light, on a concrete bed.

God Inc.

Imitating my patriotic readings
they suppressed my horizon.
I took hold of your name,
of memory the last station.

Every letter engraved
on the silent walls of my cell,
swiftly came the hummingbirds
to applaud the end of my concert.

The  spit lost its reach,
roaches played on my face,
my mother gave me a one way ticket
although she knew that love wasn’t surrendering.

The train departed with one aboard,
smudging the image on the window,
for an instance two dried up cats
were following the shadow of a dream.

Prison. 1580  San Miguel del Padrón
In solitary confinement and starvation.

epitaph
Here lies Angel Santiesteban Prats, controversial, patriot, slandered and friend.
He lived and died as he imagined the best novels.

Translated by Ernesto Suarez

12 April 2013

Official statement on the irregular situation of Angel Santiesteban-Prats

epitafio

Angel’s family wants to inform the international community where we stand as of tonight April 12, 2013.

Last week, the regime tried to hide Angel in the Salvador Allende military hospital with the excuse of a dermatological treatment he is receiving, to avoid his having access to talk to the Commission of National and International Journalists accredited to visit La Lima Prison on Tuesday last, April 9. Given the outright refusal of Angel to be taken to the hospital, he was informed that he would be given a pass for a few hours to go to his house. He was even advised in a phone call that they would call indicating what time they should pick him up on Monday.

That call never took place. And after many inquiries it was reported to his friends that he had been taken by force and handcuffed to an unknown destination. It also emerged that Angel tried to resist the transfer — illegal of course — and they would have undertaken in any event on Sunday night.

The family waited for the phone call that any prisoner is entitled to but that call never came. Attorney Amelia Rodriguez Cala — after visiting La Lima — was informed that Angel had been transferred to the Prison 15-80, The Pitirre, in San Miguel del Padrón, a severe regime facility. She had made all the relevant official arrangements to visit her client and it was agreed she would visit this morning, Thursday, April 11, at 11 am.

The attorney Rodriguez Cala appeared at Prison 15-80 at the set time but was denied the visit. Some officers told that Angel is housed in solitary confinement and is on hunger strike. It is the first time that the lawyer was refused the right to visit a defendant.

None of this has been confirmed because to the unlawful transfer of Angel we must add a new violation of his rights: not allowing his lawyer to visit.

At this time and without knowing anything for sure about Angel, his family, his lawyer and all his friends are extremely concerned. We fear for his safety. We all know that when a prisoner is beaten savagely they will not show him publicly until they can erase the traces of the crime. We fear that this is the case. And to our uncertainty is added the fact of not having the certain knowledge that he is confined in Prison 15-80 and that it could be just one more lie of the regime.

From here, from his blog, this space of freedom that has led to the situation he now finds himself in, wrongly convicted after a rigged trial based on the false allegations made against Angel by the mother of his son — Kenya Rodriguez — his family and friends demand from Raul Castro Ruz that he to enforce all legal guarantees established by law and that Angel be granted the visit of rigor required by law that his lawyer can determine where he is and what is the state of his health.

From here on out we hold the government of Raul Castro Ruz absolutely responsible for what might happen to Angel and we demand his immediate appearance in perfect physical health.

International public opinion through the media and human rights organizations is aware of what they are doing to Ángel Santiesteban-Prats. The mantle of impunity is increasingly slim. And we will not stop until it breaks completely and there is justice for all Cubans.

We also demand that the commission of journalists who are visiting Cuban prisons fulfill their sacred duty to tell the truth and do not lend themselves to being crass puppets in the Castro theater. The life and safety of thousands of prisoners across the island depend on their compliance with the moral imperative and the ethical duty of the journalist. Therefore, we also hold them responsible for what may happen to Angel and all Cuban prisoners, whether political or common.

At dawn on April 12, we are waiting to find Ángel Santiesteban-Prats in perfect health.

Signed: The editor of the blog: The Children Nobody Wanted

Dios SA

1

From Monday the 8th at 7pm. Without water, nor clothes, nor toiletries, without light, on a concrete bed.

God Inc.

Imitating my patriotic readings
they suppressed my horizon.
I took hold of your name,
of memory the last station.

Every letter engraved
on the silent walls of my cell,
swiftly came the hummingbirds
to applaud the end of my concert.

The  spit lost its reach,
roaches played on my face,
my mother gave me a one way ticket
although she knew that love wasn’t surrendering.

The train departed with one aboard,
smudging the image on the window,
for an instance two dried up cats
were following the shadow of a dream.

Prison. 1580  San Miguel del Padrón
In solitary confinement and starvation.

epitaph
Here lies Angel Santiesteban Prats, controversial, patriot, slandered and friend.
He lived and died as he imagined the best novels.

Poem translated by Ernesto Suarez

12 April 2013

The slap of the intellectual is almost always eternal even if it costs him his life.

Hey UNEAC

Dear Members of UNEAC (the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba): (take note). Angel Santiesteban [is a worm in prison]. Revolutionarily, Me [Raul]

The honeymoon between the Intellectual and Power will always be incestuous. They are distant, different roads that will be forced to converge, an arm wrestling where the same one doesn’t always win, even though when it’s Power’s turn it hits harder, but eventually it will be forgotten in time except to remember its negativity.

The slap of the intellectual is almost always eternal even if it costs him his life.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Urgent: Angel Santiesteban Prats Was Transferred And His Whereabouts are Unknown

Today the Human Rights Commission was scheduled to visit La Lima Penitentiary. Because of this they planned to take Angel Santiesteban to the Salvador Allende Military Hospital so that he would not have access to this Commission. At his blunt refusal to enter the hospital they were going to give him a pass for a few hours to go home. He woke up expecting to be taken there. But instead he found himself handcuffed and taken no one knows where. Since this morning we have been waiting in vain for news. We hope there wasn’t an incident when he was transferred but we don’t know any more.

We pray that you spread this news as widely as possible.

9 April 2013