Monthly Archives: May 2013

Prison Diary XXII: Maximum Security and Minimum Decency

Some days ago I was told that I had been “revoked” to a maximum security prison for six months for the hunger strike I undertook. They are so predictable I could not help smiling. But it has been nothing more than a justification to punish me and keep me away from the phone in a further attempt to reduce the regularity of the posts I write for my blog, The Children Nobody Wanted.

Since I’ve been here I haven’t gone to the dining room, for the benefit it represents for me to spend time in my cell, allowing me to write, read, and also avoid losing this in search of food you can not eat.

One prisoner told me that perhaps the conversation I had with the Prison Director had been a provocation for me to declare a hunger strike again, to land me in solitary confinement and to put an end to my public demands. They want to silence me to prevent me from giving my opinions about May 1st and their report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Once again, the government of the Castro brothers, violates the rights of a Cuban with their usual cynicism, using another lie to commit a new injustice, as I had been informed that he was not revoked because the transfer from La Lima Prison to 1580 Prison was not because of a discipline infraction, and this is what they also told my family on Saturday April 13.

Now I am, for those who still defend the dictatorship, in a maximum security prison, instead of the promised hospital where they would give me a “check up.” Lie after lie.

Worst of all is that they have emerged, again, unharmed before the Human Rights Council, precisely on the issue of prisons in Cuba, where they commit so many abuses and violate the rights of prisoners with impunity.

The Council and the world must prevent the Cuban government from continuing to mock the United Nations.

We Cuban Prisoners ask each fair and decent citizen take a minute of your life and protest the abuses that occur in Cuban jails.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
1580 Prison, May 2013
Havana, Cuba

30 May 2013

Prison Diary XXI: I Accuse: If something happens to me it is NOT an accident

Last Friday, May 17, I was led to the punishment cell.

In the morning I was visited by the prison director, Lieutenant Colonel Villarrueta Reinaldo Vargas, Chief Interior, Major Erasmus, and First Lieutenant, serving as Duty Officer.

They took me out of the cell and I was told that my belongings would be searched. What they were looking for was nothing more than my writings, letters, in short, they wanted the complaints, the future posts.

Faced with my silence, they dug through, with exquisite interest, paper after paper. Power allows them to abuse. They read my personal letters from my family and friends sending me strength.

Some letters  were seized, one from my daughter, my sister, a mason, all of Antonio Rodiles’s and some others from inmates who wrote to me from other barracks in Prison 1580.

“A lot of inmates write to you!” the Director commented.

“People don’t know how to relieve their pain,” I responded.

They continued digging, slowly reading even what a girl of 15 told me about her life, about her excellent grades and her assurances that she is very proud of me.

“I’ve read your complaints, that there is torture here,” the Director said, turning back to me.

“Of course,” I said, “there are brutal beatings here, I have seen ten guards beat a handcuffed man, the living conditions in here are torture, the lack of general hygiene, bed bugs everywhere, bad food, badly prepared, and lack of vital medicines for the mental stability of inmates who need psychiatric drugs, and who, from not taking them, are altered and are punished in cells with charges of indiscipline filed against them.”

But he wasn’t listening to me, he continued to look for information, trying to prevent the world from knowing about the excesses committed in Cuban prisons, which disprove the version of Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who mocked the Human Rights Council, based in Geneva.

The Director found an old manuscript, a draft of some post already published.

“This already came out,” he said, and tossed it.

At that same time, the inmates of my barracks went out for a reward visit and were searched physically in a way they never experienced in all their lives as prisoners. They were stripped, ordered to squat, spread their buttocks, lift their scrotum, armpits, mouth, show the soles of the feet. All to prevent their collaborating with the cause and sending out my writings.

On Friday, the 24th, will be the regular visit.  They showed me the card where I wrote the names of those who would come to see me. And I found they denied permission to nine of the thirteen people I requested. Each name had a signature and a NO, including Antonio Rodiles and Ailer González, and of course, the mother of my daughter and my friends.

So it goes in the prison, the struggle, the censorship and the grim power of the Castro brothers.

An officer I’ve never seen before assured me that I will not get out of this alive, and that after a lot of scandal, nothing will happen; “Accidents are accidents,” he tells me laughing.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison 1580. May 2013

27 May 2013

Communication About the Situation of Angel Santiesteban in Prison 1580

In just three days on May 28, it will be three months that our brother and friend Angel Santiesteban Prats has been locked up in a Castro regime concentration paying the price of an unjust sentence for crimes he did not commit. We issue this statement to denounce to international public opinion his living conditions and the treatment he and those with whom he shares this hell receive; people whose principles of solidarity and commitment to the dignity they still have not been able to kill.

Yesterday, May 24, Angel finally received the much awaited visit from his family and friends, a visit he is allowed only once a month. This is what has happened to him in Prison 1580:

– His jailers, obeying orders from the top brass of the criminal State Security, determined who would come to see him and who wouldn’t, violating Angel’s right to receive them and his visitors’ rights to see him.

– Knowing that Angel hardly eats, family and friends have brought food, as usual. They let in some, but the juice boxes he always keeps in reserve for when it has no food, were opened by the guards. It seems they do not understand that you can not hide powder in a liquid medium.

– Before he could go to meet their relatives, Angel was stripped and checked twice, as if he were an armed criminal. It seems they have not yet realized that his only weapons are his courage and his words.

After the visit, we denounce that the repression against Angel and his companions increases more every day.

Angel has again spent four days in a punishment cell and they have seized all the letters and papers in his possession.

All his companions are being threatened, especially those who are closest to him, and are searched constantly, as his is family. One of his companions, whose letters were also seized, was transferred to a prison in Santa Clara, violating another law: that prisoners remain close to their homes and their families.

In a new attempt to dissuade him, they have offered to send Angel to a painted, clean and well-lit cell where he could write in peace, where he could hang what he wanted on the walls and even sunbathe. He went to see it, but rejected it outright on discovering that the sole purpose of so much generosity was to further isolate him from the rest of the prisoners. Finally, he was held in a tiny, uninhabitable cell with the mattress taken out from 6am to 6pm.

Given these flagrant violations of Angel’s rights of and the rights of all inmates in Prison 1580, we want to make it clear once again that we hold Raul Castro responsible for the integrity of Angel and that of all his companions. And we also want to once again appeal to the conscience of the “journalists” of the Commission who visited Castro’s jails and who stamped with their hypocrisy the abuses that have been committed against prisoners, whether common or of conscience, for 54 years.

Everything that happens in 1580 is repeated in all the prisons of the island and the “journalists” know it, as all the government friends of the dictator Castro also know.

We demand an end to the repression and violation of human rights of Angel and all his companions. We also demand that Angel be released immediately and be given to a new trial with all procedural safeguards he never had.

It is time that the regime understands that the world is watching what they are doing with Angel and that sooner or later they will pay for it.

And echoing what Angel wrote in a post a couple of days ago, we expect the Rapporteur that the UN sends to Cuba to be honest and to visit those whom he should visit and collect their complaints.

On behalf of the family and friends of Angel Santisteban-Prats,
The Editors

25 May 2013

Prison Diary XX. With his mouth sewn shut and smeared with excrement, a young man demands his rights

I found myself, like most of the time, writing on my bed when I heard the call, “Political, Political”; and they came to me in haste. Outside, they told me, there was a man who sewed his mouth shut with wire, come.

Really, to think about the scene makes me bitter. “I’m not a maxillofacial doctor, why, then, my presence?” I said, trying to avoid it. It was he who was calling, they told me, “He wants to talk with you.” Then, I couldn’t stay away. As I approached I heard his desperate voice, calling me, between lips barely open.

To describe the horror in a way that someone who hasn’t seen it can imagine it, is not possible: he stopped in front of the patio door that leads to my hut, his body smeared with fecal waste, holding a pail of dung with the aim of evading the guards who didn’t dare to force him back to his cell. The worst were his lips sewn with wire. The first question I asked myself was what level of desperation, helplessness and sadness could have forced him to commit such a folly, because by his aspect he doesn’t seem to be mentally ill.

With difficulty I could understand that he was desperate because the guards did not want to hear his being right. They just threatened and beat him every time he demanded his rights, and this had led him to take that step. Several times he assured me he wasn’t crazy: he tells me that if the Rapporteurs of the Commission of Human Rights come to see me, don’t be afraid to tell the truth.

I nodded my head in agreement, I’m always overwhelmed by the anxiety of my powerlessness to help. I wouldn’t have minded touching and cleaning those lips that were beginning to show signs of infection, a reason for their taking him to the nurse in those conditions.

I swore that within my humble means, I would inform international public opinion, and if the Rapporteurs came to Cuba, I would talk to them about him.

Before he left I tried to convince him that he had accomplished his purpose; the prison and its leadership felt the guilt of not having listened, the other inmates as well, so I asked if it made sense to continue in such conditions, to the point of putting his life in danger. He said, “Yes, Political, don’t think that I came to you without knowing who you are, in the cell told me how they force-fed you, if you weren’t there or in the hospital.”

I could only ask God to protect him.

Finally he responded to the constant order of the guards to continue to his cell.

“Don’t forget me, Political,” he said, and I couldn’t stop my eyes from tearing up. In those few minutes we had shared between us a solidarity and brotherhood which rose above the difficult situation in which we live.

“I embrace you,” he said. “I you, as well,” I responded and he walked proudly to the dirty and dark recesses of the punishment cells.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580. May 2013

22 May 2013

The Santiesteban Case: A Crude Judicial Hoax / Angel Santiesteban

Literature and Justice

The award-winning writer Angel Santiesteban is imprisoned unjustly for his confrontational attitude to the Castro regime.

On Wednesday, February 27, at the headquarters of the Estado de Sats project there was a farewell to Angel Santiesteban Prats, the award-winning writer. The next morning, he will present himself to serve the prison sentence imposed on him.

That same day, on asking my opinion as a lawyer, I began to know the details of his case. When I started to read the documentation, the conviction that I was in the presence of a crude judicial hoax took hold of me.

The center of Santiesteban’s misfortunes is his ex-wife Kenia Rodriguez Guzman. She wants to emigrate, but as a loving mother she wants to do so together with Eduardo, the son of her union with Angel. For this she needed his authorization; but he does not want to leave Cuba nor be separated from his offspring, so he refused permission and expressed his willingness to assume custody of and care for the boy when she left.

It was then that the former wife, who on top of everything suffers from psychiatric disorders, offered to make accusations that involved him in criminal proceedings. On a first occasion, the complaint for an offense of threats failed, as the prominent writer was acquitted.

In July 2009, Kenya accused her former husband of trespassing into her home and beating her in the face. With the passage of time, she “enriched” her statement, saying he had stolen her family jewels and, almost a month later, that he had raped her and tried to murder her by suffocating her with a pillow. There was also talk about an alleged attempt to burn down Kenia’s house.

In short, the authorities discarded the additional complaints of the woman as unfounded. Naturally, the question arises: If we reach the conclusion that she lied about the alleged theft, murder and rape, then why not admit the probable falsity of the other complaints that she made!

This would follow not only from the contradictory testimony of the complainant, but also other elements of the case. Eduardo‘s teacher testified to a conversation with him: At first, the child accused his father to her, but then began to cry and on the teacher asking why he was crying, the boy told her that his mother told him to lie against Angel.

Alexis Quintana deserves special mention. This individual, in his alleged status as the only eyewitness, was the star of the havoc that Santiesteban, according to what Quintana said, tried to wreak in Kenia’s home. However, in a video presented to the Court, Quintana acknowledged that he had seen nothing, and that his statement was lies, made at the insistence of the woman, and that he received gifts in payment for it.

These two statements are very important, not for their relationship with the facts of the case (with which they have no direct link), but for what they bring to the lack of credibility of the complainant. If she does not hesitate to influence others — including her own son!– to formulate false statements against the object of her hatred, why wouldn’t she herself lie!

Three witnesses testified to having been with the defendant in another place at the time of the alleged incidents. The Court, in rejecting these witnesses, invokes the statement of the minor child Eduardo. However, he said later he spent the afternoon only in his father’s house, so that his statement did not in any way contradict the other three witnesses, who were ignored in a Olympian manner.

Given the absence of incriminating evidence, the courtroom, to back up the version of the complainant, called a handwriting expert. Like the charlatans that follow Lombroso to “demonstrate the responsibility” of an accused person, studying the shape of his ears or the prominence of his chin, so the supposed expert dared to swear before the Court that Santiesteban was guilty… based on his handwriting!

After forcing Angel to copy by hand an entire page of the garbage published by the official newspaper Granma, a lieutenant colonel in the Interior Ministry rose to assert nothing more and nothing less than… The size, form and slant of his handwriting constituted irrefutable proof the he was guilty of the charges.

In short, the Court, based on the statements of an enemy of the accused (who is also a mental patient), and the “handwriting expert,” declared Santiesteban guilt of the crimes of housebreaking and serious injury.

Article 287.1 of the Penal Code, which establishes penalties of three months to one year, or a simple fine, was used to describe the first of two violations; however for this crime the court set the illegal sentence of two years in prison, double the maximum allowed! For the serious injuries, which call for a sentence of between two and five years, the court imposed the upper limit. Suspicious supreme severity for an intellectual lacking a criminal record!

With respect to those bodily injuries, their seriousness was established based on the supposed perforation of an eardrum, causing hearing loss. But in the medical certificate not a single word is said about it. Thus, even if one considers some aggression on Angel’s part, there was reasonable doubt that this event cause the injury suffered by Kenya, who was even hit by a vehicle.

Another curious fact: Although this was supposedly a common — not a political — case, the appeal was heard by the Court for Crimes against State Security. The delay of years undergone in the conduct of this case and the whole set of circumstances already mentioned, lead us to assume that Angel Santiesteban is being pursued for the rebellious stance he took against the regime.

National and international public opinion must interest itself in this case.

Rene Gomez Manzano
Attorney and Freelance Journalist
Havana, March 4, 2013

21 May 2013

Cuban Diary XIX: What the UN Rapporteur Should See / Angel Santiesteban

If the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva saw through a crack the horrors that occur in Cuban prisons, surely it would do two things:

1 – Expel Cuba from the United Nations.

2 – Knowing the alleged violations that are occurring in the prison of Guantanamo Bay, according to accusations from the Castro government, they could send the directors who lead the prisons in Cuba — true concentration camps — to pass a course at Guantanamo, in order to improve their behavior.

The dictatorship, always obsessed with attacking the United States, transmits TV images denigrating what is allegedly happening in Guantanamo Bay.

It’s not my job to defend it or make value judgments about it, this is the role of the American people; my obligation as a Cuban and intellectual is to denounce the terrible tortures that take place in the prison where I have been held and of which I am not a witness.

At present, in the cell, there is a young man with his mouth sewn shut with wire. Today he passed through the prison before the frightened looks from the other inmates.

There are daily fights between prisoners and between them and the guards. I guess this is common in any prison in the world but I am not a specialist to confirm that. But here, when the guards confront a prisoner, the ratio is ten to one, along with their batons and pepper sprays.

The food they serve is a tiny amount and badly prepared. It consists of a few grams o rice, a boiled egg, and a colorless and odorless but always disgusting soup.

The barracks are populated by prisoners who have completed their sentences, and who, because of bureaucratic problems, remained locked up without any consideration. The constant beatings and dungeons are increasing their sentences along with the blackmail to not demand their “rights.”

Silence is the only ally of the Cuban prisoner; talking could lead to a new condemnatory charge in the most arbitrary of decisions.

They wait and resign themselves. They have no alternatives.

That is the stark reality of the Cuban prisoner, who lives without guarantees of his rights or the chance to make demands. Even without reviewing the records of those processed in light of international guarantees applied to the condemned, I can say without any fear of being mistaken that if that were to happen half of the prison population would be freed.

A court that has before it a young man without hope, who, unfortunately, is a part of the children nobody wanted, who has left school and has no place to be nor can he be offered a reliable life project that invites him to get on track that isn’t emigration, the place he can best be held is in jail.

A great part of Cuban youth that has not found a way to go into exile is in prison; and I say this with total confidence, they are following there a criminal course for their future as thugs.

Hopefully the Rapporteur who is sent to Cuba will be able to meet with the people who so greatly suffer the need for him.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580
May 2013

18 May 2013

PEN Writers in Prison Ask for a Review of Angel Santiesteban’s Trial / Angel Santiesteban

The German PEN Center for Writers in Prison has pronounced its satisfaction with the release of Calixto Martinez Arias but is now asking for a review of the trials of Jose Antonio Torres, journalist, and of writer and blogger Angel Santiesteban Prats. We call on the authorities to provide legal guarantees that have not been respected and this is why the sentences are not related to the crimes they are accuse us. We also call for the evidence to be proceedings be made public.

Posted on 13 April 2013 by Writers in Prison

Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias

[The following is in English in the original]

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the 9 April 2013 release of the independent journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, who had been detained without charge since September 2012. However, PEN notes that two other writers remain imprisoned in the country – state journalist José Antonio Torres and author and blogger Ángel Santiesteban Prats – and continues to call on the authorities to provide assurances that their sentences are not related to their reporting, and to make public details of their trials.

Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, journalist for the independent news agency Hablemos Press, was released from prison on 9 April 2013, after being detained without charge for almost seven months. Arrested on 16 September 2012 after covering a cholera outbreak which the Cuban authorities had reportedly been trying to downplay, he faced a sentence of up to three years in prison for ‘disrespect’ towards the head of state under Article 144 of the Cuban Criminal Code. The charges were never officially confirmed, his lawyer was not allowed access to his case file and he was never put on trial.

Martínez’ release eventually came amid growing pressure from Cuban civil society and international organisations and the day after he began his third hunger strike. He had called off his previous hunger strike on 28 March after the authorities indicated that he would be moved from Combinado del Este prison to Valle Grande prison and subsequently released. However, although Martínez was transferred he was not freed. As a result, he resumed his hunger strike on 8 April. A number of his colleagues and fellow dissidents joined the hunger strike, including Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, director of Hablemos Press, which had launched a campaign on social media to push for Martínez’ release.

According to colleagues at Hablemos Press, Martínez has lost two teeth and has cuts on his lips and tongue. Previous reports indicate that he suffered ill treatment in prison, including assault, a ban on using the telephone, being placed in solitary confinement and denied medical attention.

Two other writers remain in Cuban prisons: José Antonio Torres, former correspondent for the government newspaper Granma, and Ángel Santiesteban Prats, award-winning writer and author of the blog ‘The Children Who Nobody Loved’ (‘Los Hijos que Nadie Quiso’). Little is known about the trial of either writer.

Torres, who has been detained since February 2011, is serving a 14-year prison sentence for alleged espionage. His arrest followed the publication of articles in 2010 detailing the mismanagement of an aqueduct project and the installation of fibre-optic cable between Venezuela and Cuba, in which Vice President Ramiro Valdés was named as responsible for supervising both projects. Torres was convicted in mid-June 2012 following a closed trial. Cuba’s state-run media has made only a few brief references to Torres’ case and little is known about the espionage charge, although there are rumours that he may have offered or given confidential information to the US diplomatic mission in Havana.

Santiesteban was imprisoned on 28 February 2013 after being sentenced to five years in prison for alleged assault and trespassing in a case involving his ex-wife. The writer maintains that the charges are fabricated and politically motivated, retribution for his blog which is critical of the Cuban situation and government. He also claims that he was informed of what the outcome of the trial would be on 8 November 2012, one month before the sentencing took place. Details of the case against Santiesteban have not been made public in state media, but according to the appeal lodged by his lawyer there were a number of serious irregularities in the trial and sentencing.

PEN holds no position on Santiesteban’s guilt or innocence. However, it is concerned that his trial appears to have fallen short of international human rights standards.

A post on Santiesteban’s blog dated 9 April 2013 said that the writer had taken from La Lima prison to an unknown destination, and suggested that the reason for his removal was that the ‘Human Rights Commission’ (possibly the Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos) had been due to visit the prison that day. Santiesteban had previously reported in a statement published on his blog on 5 April that he had been told that he would be taken to the Salvador Allende military hospital for a check-up in relation to suspected skin cancer. He said that he would refuse to go as it was a military hospital.

For further details on Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias, José Antonio Torres and Ángel Santiesteban Prats, see previous alert.

Please send appeals:

Welcoming the release of Hablemos Press journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias on 9 April 2013;

Noting, however, that two other writers remain in prison in Cuba, former Granma correspondent José Antonio Torres and writer and blogger Ángel Santiesteban Prats, and that their trials apparently failed to meet international human rights standards for fair trials, outlined in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Calling on the Cuban authorities to provide assurances that Torres’ and Santiesteban’s sentences are not related to their reporting, and to make public details of their trials;

Urging the Cuban authorities to remove unlawful restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly in Cuba.

Appeals to:

Head of State and Government

Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba office in Geneva);
+1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Email: (c/o Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency
Attorney General

Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella, Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
Interior Minister

General Abelardo Coloma Ibarra
Ministro del Interior y Prisiones
Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban Mission to UN)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please send also appeals to diplomatic representatives of Cuba in your country.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with the WiPC if sending appeals after 11 June 2013***

Published by PEN Zentrum Deuschtland

19 April 2013

Prison Diary XVIII: Those Who Live Off The Government / Angel Santiesteban

A few days ago it was suggested to me in a letter that someday, in another government of course, I could be Minister of Culture, which I doubt because I think politics is not my thing. But if being a politician is saying what you think and going against the interests of the current president, then I am a politician, or a romantic risking that I don’t get tired of suffering until the coming of the happiness to this country that it has deserved for so many years.

In this future government I don’t doubt that there will be the same people who now support the dictatorship.

Unfortunately they are corks*, intellectuals without honor, allying themselves for their personal benefit to communism and fascism.

We see them there, and they, as usual, extend a greeting to me that if I escape they will label me spiteful and say that I cannot adjust to the new national force for a better country.

Those of us who were born to suffer, those of us who do not accept gifts from wherever they come, those of us who think first of Martí, we never enter into these political alliances.

For me, a president is nothing more than a good administrator, and if we get one, then we will see our economy and our culture flourish. What more can we ask for? With that I will be deeply happy. I want a participatory democracy, a country without a secret police that persecutes the opposition and a culture that is not censored for expressing ideas contrary to the State.

In short, I want a free country and that’s why I wake up every morning in this prison completely sure that José Martí’s dream is coming. I am happy in the place that I am. I am at the side of the suffered with Bishop Espada, Father Jos” Agustín Caballero and Félix Varela; I am where I am because I am continuing along the path laid for us by Martí, Céspedes, Agramonte, Maceo. And accompanying me on this path are hundreds of Cubans like Antonio Rodiles, Jose Daniel Ferrer, Guillermo Fariñas, Berta Soler, Hector Maseda, Angel Moya, Cuesta Morúa, Antunez, Manzano and Palacio, among many, who risk their lives and those of their families to achieve our longed for freedom, not to mention the community of bloggers and independent journalists.

I am going to be this: a citizen in the service of good causes, and I’ll be with the rest of the noble and honest intellectuals creating our works which is the best omen.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580. May 2013

*Translator’s note: “Corks” in the sense that they keep bobbing to the surface.

17 May 2013

Angel Santiesteban Harassed and Isolated in Prison 1580. Raul Castro Responsible for His Safety / Angel Santiesteban

After several days of staging a scene in the tropical paradise prison system for the accredited “press” and the examination of the UN Human Rights Council, where Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said he will accept the recommendations of the international body and apply them to the Castro prison system and he  said he will allow the Red Cross visits, everything is the same or worse. Nothing changed and never will change because changes will never come from those who have caused the Cuban tragedy. The only change possible is to root out the evil dynastic dictatorship of the sadistic Castro brothers.

Cuba is a small island in whose geography is the largest concentration of jails in the world. The Island of Happiness is a huge prison where, in its many overcrowded concentration camps live the tortured, humiliated and starved thousands of prisoners, guilty or not, who have rights like any human being; rights that the regime in Havana never respected. To the common prisoners must be added the more than hundred prisoners of conscience who are caged to silence them on false charges of common crimes, such as Angel Santiesteban.

Fortunately, through Angel — and despite the relentless efforts of his jailers to silence him — we know that in that grisly concentration camp in which he is located, the 1580 Prison in San Miguel del Padrón, Havana, on the 5th May there was the beginning of riot caused by the indignation of the prison population on seeing how two thugs torturing a young black man, mentally ill, whose humanity is locked in there. Thanks to the solidarity of all, they left the unfortunate boy in peace and the inmates calmed down.

But from this episode we must extract two important things. One is that not even in such terrible conditions of life do solidarity and values disappear. Although there will always be those who choose to ally themselves with their executioners, the majority will preserves and defend their dignity. If they are often silent it is just to avoid greater evils, but moments of maximum cruelty arrive, as Angel related, the principles take over from fear and all become a voice against injustice. This  stopped the savagery that might have killed the boy.

But, and no less important, is when barbarism is manifested with all the fury, the clamor of the prisoners is not limited only to scream against it and stop it, but it becomes a cry for freedom, for democracy, against the dictatorship, against the dictator and a stern warning that should not go unnoticed by anyone, especially Raul Castro and the international organizations that do little or nothing to stop the accumulated abuses from the incredible 54 years of so-called “Revolution”.

There were common criminals who turned their pleas for justice for their fellow prisoner into slogans for freedom and against the dictatorship. Common criminals  who, possibly, when they lived in freedom (as it’s defined in Cuba) had never questioned the legitimacy or otherwise of the government that enslaves them; the inefficient, shameless and manipulative government that is the one truly guilty for their being there, that has forced them to commit a crime with the sole purpose to survive and feed their families.

This is not about justifying crime. Not at all. But we all know that justice in Cuba is nothing more but a subsidiary power and dependent on political power which administers revenge more than actual criminal convictions. And, betraying the promise that the Revolution was “a revolution of the humble, by the humble and for the humble,” it vents its rage over the most humble and the most vulnerable. And even more so with those who struggle for freedom.

It is precisely the full force of such arbitrariness and injustice in Cuba that “manufactures” dissidents and opponents, and in this process the concentration camps are no exception. On the contrary. This beginning of mutiny has shown that, when inmates have nothing to lose, they lose fear and regain dignity.

Angel is being abused differently, but no less cruelly. He is being tortured psychologically. They have cut off all means of communication with his family, except for those two measly minutes on the phone every so often. They have taken from him open communication with his peers, who have been harassed and threatened with punishment if they have anything to do with him. But once again, showing courage and intelligence, there many people who create strategies to communicate without being noticed by the guards and by the inmates whom the guards bribe.

Angel is where he doesn’t have to be. He is suffering vengeance for having dared to express himself freely. They have tried to turn him into an abuser and a rapist, but they had nothing to use in this intent because nobody believed it. The unfortunate few who spoke out against him were those who, threatened and pressured, didn’t know how to preserve their dignity or at least to remain silent.

The eyes of the civilized world are on and the abuses they commit. The gaze of international organizations is on Angel Santiesteban and are there are ever more who are speaking up in his favor. The more abuses committed against him, the more solidarity grows, aroused by the injustice.

Raul Castro knows it and he is directly responsible for anything that may happen to Angel. As are the army of eunuchs who fulfill their miserable orders, but not only as obedient soldiers but as genuine sadists manifesting all their murderous instincts.

And once again, and we will not tire of repeating it until we have justice for Angel: we demand his immediate transfer to La Lima Prison where, despite not having to be there, he should never have been transferred illegally and violently. We demand absolute respect for his rights and that he be given a fair trial with full due process, with those who were conspicuous by their complete absence in the trial for him, who are now imprisoned.

We demand that Angel be left in peace to work, doing what he can do like nobody else: write. We recall that while he being beaten, humiliated and isolated, there are international judges reading and evaluating his work; prestigious publishers reading his manuscripts. And when he once again wins prizes and is published, as surely will happen very soon, the world press will report that if he can not collect his prizes, or attend presentations of his books because he is in a Cuban concentration camp, that is not Guantanamo but might as well be.

Look after Angel and try not to continue throwing mud on yourselves. In today’s world nothing can be hidden and, sooner or later, everything is known. So it will be very easy to add to the long list of crimes, that the regime has committed and is committing, this criminal proceeding against an intellectual amid growing outrage while his tormentors bury themselves ever deeper in their rotten and fearful actions. And this must always be paid for.

We also remind them, once again, that the same rights we demand for Angel, we demand for the entire prison population, and in particular we demand the immediate release of prisoners of conscience.

They will never silence the truth. History has proved it. When they are digging their claws into Angel Santiesteban they are further strengthening the symbol of freedom he has already become.

So the demand is clear: Raul Castro, do the right thing and order justice done for Angel and do not forget even for a moment that you are and will remain solely responsible for the physical and mental integrity of Angel.

On behalf of the family and friends of Angel Santiesteban-Prats

The Editors

Note: In this documentary, and especially from minute 24.30, you can see and understand how the Nazis manipulated and hid what they did in the concentration camps by preparing a perfect theater in Theresienstadt where they took the Red Cross delegates and showed them the “wonderful” life of the Jews there. The strategy of staging the Nazis used then was copied by the regime in Havana and so continue to lie to international public opinion about what really happens in their concentration camps. What is curious and incomprehensible is that today, when we have the help of technology and nothing can be hidden and all the evidence of what happens is within reach of everyone, there are still those who deny it and defend it from above.

The Red Cross the Third Reich

Site manager’s note: This third-party video is in Spanish (and German, French and English) and is included here to show the whole post as it was posted, but is not translated.

13 May 2013

SOS: Attempted Riot in Prison 1580. Increase in Repression Against Angel Santiesteban and the Other Inmates

After the attempted riot in Prison 1580

Last night, Sunday May 5 at 7:45 PM, an inmate — Reniel Agramonte Valle — was beaten by two guards: Jesus and Andy the karate man. The inmates of both barracks started shouting against abuse and almost all looked through the windows and bars while the guards continued the abuse of the black, slight and famished 24-year-old.

The prisoners began to hit the gate until it broke and opened; the guards seeing the possible population unnerved all about them, fled and forgot how numerous they and their batons were, the same ones who minutes before struck the prisoner in question, and who by then had been taking their pills for chronic mental illness that are supplied  to them several times a day.

To stop the potential riot, the senior officer, when he reached the scene, freed the prisoner, and when they saw him return to the barracks it began to calm the spirits of his comrades who had already begun yelling “Down with Fidel,” “Down with dictatorship,” “Tomorrow we will get the news to Radio Martí,” “Assassins,” and “Abusers,” among others.

This morning, when the inmates attended the breakfast, they were met with German shepherds, the ones who on just seeing a prison uniform begin to bark and are very aggressive with them, Nazi-style.

In previous days they also beat several prisoners and after the beatings, they put them in cells hidden from the eyes of the rest of the prison population to hide their injuries and bodily signs of violence against them.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580, San Miguel del Padrón

Sowing Terror

One day after the attempted riot in the prison, they began the interviews and the removal of all persons who regularly conversed with me.

They want to keep inmates away from me because they consider a dangerous element my relating to them. And so they were taken to other barracks.

Now the prisoners afraid to approach me because they don’t want to be harmed. I am also concerned about some who claim not to care; because when they receive reprisals for being close to me, my guilty conscience is great because their fates are worse just for talking to me.

Even so, some have changed strategy and started to leave me papers on my bed with silent solidarity messages.

A prisoner on a hunger strike, Jesús Guerra Camejo, for talking with me, has also been taken from the company to an unknown destination.

The inmates are constantly interviewed to obtain information about me, writing or any data they might provide about me.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580, San Miguel del Padrón

10 May 2013