Monthly Archives: June 2013

Angel Santiesteban: To Proven Innocence, Manifest Disloyalty

Editor’s note

This is going to be a long but necessary post. From the La Lima prison, where he currently finds himself serving a five-year imprisonment which the government imposed in a rigged trial in order to condemn him for a common crime that he did not commit, we have received these responses by the writer Angel Santiesteban, dictated to a friend by telephone. [Note: In the time between when this post was written and its translation, Angel has been transferred to Prison 1580]

A first answer from Angel Santiesteban to the open letter by writer Jose Migues Sanches (Yoss), recently appeared on the blog EforyAtocha:

And an answer to the document from the witness Leticia Perez Gonzalez, circulated in Cuba by the organizers of the Campaign All Against Violence.

We have also received, via fellow writer Luis Felipe Rojas, the response from the Cuban poet Rafael Alcides to the manipulation that has been made since Cuba the Campaign All Against Violence a letter that he sent to Angel Santiesteban.

We ask the readers of this blog to forgive us (for the very long post), but we consider it necessary to publish at the same time these three important items.

An Open letter to Writer Jose Miguel “Yoss” Sanchez

[Translation taken from Havana Times]

Colleague José Miguel Sánchez (Yoss):

In your letter — apparently affectionate and confident — you create the impression that we used to have ice cream together, or we’d go to the movies together or any of those other things done by a couple of friends in everyday life. I’m sorry, but I only recall a few greetings when our paths crossed in some literary events and chance meetings in the city.

Really, what you wrote seems pathetic to me. If I remember correctly, you were only in my house three times…or something like that. One time it was to get a book I was lending you, and the other times when you were looking for a Mexican woman, who I later had to accompany out of your house as she cried uncontrollably. Remember?

However, I — who could say something with proof — kept my mouth shut because I had no interest in attacking you, nor did I want to think you’d do that to me. Therefore I find it surprising that you, without knowing me, have traced this intimate psychological profile of me.

If everyone who has written something against me were to submit even a single piece of likely information, something palpable against me, I swear I’d be silent for the rest of my life. But I know they can’t do that. I can say this because professional investigators were after me for three a half years — not only with their cunning, but with their dirty dealings — yet the prosecution failed to present a single solid piece of proof against me to the court.

They could only present conjecture, like my “slanted handwriting.” This makes me think you’re one of the many who have heard bells without knowing from where they toll, because I’m sure your eyes have never seen anything that could convict me in this case. You limit yourself to merely echoing other speakers. You repeat or imagine, but you don’t make anything clear in your ambiguous writing.

It seems that we were close friends, and a few of the words you wrote were spoken as if we were intimate friends, which tended to confuse people and sow doubt. I don’t know why you wanted to give that image, but I would urge you to demonstrate the truth in your words with evidence.

As for Heras and Sacha, since you mention them, I’ll tell you that the first one wasn’t in the country when my ex-wife says the incident occurred, which undermines him as a witness. By that time we had an estranged friendship, because despite our long friendship, he failed to understand my right to express opinions in my blog that were critical of what was happening in my country.

As for Sacha, I always talked a lot with him, but even he was surprised to also hear the version told by the mother of my child. He only had two versions: mine and hers. Nothing more.

Colleague Yoss, every day the media campaign against me grows, it’s to my honor. Have you ever wondered why there’s such dedication? For me it’s clear: I believe this work has been undertaken to attack me because they’re pressured by the injustice they’ve committed, because anyone who gets closer to the facts will find evidence of the crude hoax prepared against me.

Just ask for the proof for punishing me. I want to believe that you’ve fallen into the trap of others, given that in what you’ve written I’ve seen no elements to support your words and assumptions. It’s a shame you’ve behaved like this; but please, when talking about something as delicate as this, proof has to be shown.

Yoss

I don’t know where you got the information about the alleged domestic problems between me and my ex. Could you give me the source or where you got this information? The person you describe has nothing to do with my personality. In fact, in our best times the mother of my son always used to tell me that I “wasn’t in love with her because I didn’t get jealous.” All you would have to do is ask any of my former partners to confirm that I’ve never been branded the jealous type. This was the first time anyone has ever accused me of that.

Hopefully you can get access to the proof that I did in fact present to demonstrate my innocence. These were corroborated by the police experts themselves. Nonetheless — despite them having no solid evidence against me— I’ve been sentenced. I hope you don’t think I’m guilty because of the “slanted handwriting” attributed to me by Lieutenant Colonel Graphologist. As my lawyer proved at the trial and in the appeal, as was supported by national and international law, such evidence isn’t conclusive enough to send me to jail for even one day.

In fact, regarding my not accepting even a fine, I refused to be deprived of the right to be innocent until they proved the contrary. There’s been a lot of writing and signed letters against me, but no evidence against me. That alone makes this legal process and trial unfair and rigged. It only allows the smokescreen of the campaign against me to hide a poor legal process and injustice.

I want to believe that you’re honest and innocent, and that you’re seeking the two sides of the story, the two versions. Do not be misled by personal determinations that trust your instincts. That’s what I want to appeal to in understanding how you’ve dared to consider me guilty.

I still trust you and I know you’ll seek that evidence and then tell me who’s right. I also hope that only after you read everything, you’ll give a true approximation about what really happened in my case.

But don’t be naive. How can you deny this was a rigged trial when they left me without witnesses (five witnesses could have spoken in my defense) because the court alleged a slight contradiction between the testimony of my son and their testimonies?

As has already been shown, there’s no such contradiction. To the contrary, it confirms the testimonies of my witnesses who, nonetheless, were dismissed. That’s called distorting the facts, lying. Then they illegally punished me with a clause that adds more time corresponding to the crime I supposedly committed.

I’m not pleading for mercy. I never will. When I’m wrong, those who know me know that I accept my errors. But being innocent, much less would I ever plead for mercy. I’m only asking for justice, a clean and transparent trial where all of you can be present and judge whether it was rigged or not.

Yoss, it’s simply that no mortal should be punished without proof. They can’t declare me guilty without a single item that affirms this, an element that’s more than the word of my ex-wife (who discredited herself in the trial by committing perjury several times), and her character witness or hearsay.

Looking at this all objectively, it’s not about whether I’m guilty or not. Here it’s about evidence that affirms or refutes. The channels are so clear and convincing that they leave no doubt: I doubt you’ve seen the video of the alleged witness that my ex-wife bribed.

Did you read the testimony of people who assured that I wasn’t even around at the time when my ex says I hurt her? Yoss, in all honesty, I want to trust that you’ll seek out those who can provide you with the legal information presented in the trial and that you’ll get to the truth. You shouldn’t condemn anyone a priori, like you did, it’s necessary to investigate, to first try to get to the truth.

If you’d like to interview my lawyer, I’ll make sure you can. But please, don’t believe anything you don’t find out through your own efforts, and watch out for those who handle and provide you versions that suit the government.

State Security is of course behind everything, just as you somewhat accepted but then contradicted yourself.

I expect your perseverance and questioning, but I need evidence against me, Yoss. I’m sick of just words and innuendo. I don’t want people to take my word; rather in the evidence that was presented. I trust that once this proof is known, all of that will serve to absolve me.

Best regards,
Angel
La Lima Prison, Guanabacoa

Witness, but of what?

Like the maxim of the Cuban writer Amir Valle in his article:  “A stab in the back”:  the truth always catches up with a lie.

Before anything I want to make clear that I join any call against the diverse known violations, but particularly this I cannot join because underlying it is an accusation against me personally, totally unjust, which is based on a trial that is not supported except by the declarations of the mother of my child and the testimony of Leticia Perez Gonzalez, whose participated in the trial as and “ear-witness” or reference was limited to repeating the words that her friend told her. Nor could she corroborate whether the events occurred, so that any assumption of  her version of events as true is a form of perversion and distortion of the truth and cannot be conclusive.

In my sole, unvarying and repeated statement, I have said that a little after 8 pm my son called my cell when I was in a Masonic session.  He let me know that some police had been in my house searching for me.  I called an ex-police officer and sister of a friend and neighbor and asked her to find out if there was some mistake.

After a while, she called my cell to tell me that there was an accusation by the mother of my child, and she was alleging that I had raped her.  Immediately, I called my editor and friend who lives near the police station, in order for her to talk to my ex and ask her, in the name of our son, to stop that new accusation.  It was not the first time that she did it and in the previous trial they felt that she was lying.

I also asked my editor friend to tell her that I was getting an apartment so that they would not be renters because she did not want to live in her aunt’s mansion and it had been sold.  Then my editor called me again to assure me that she could not do anything about it, that my ex was stuck on the idea of making the complaint.  Five calls were made from my cell, which the police reviewed without finding a single word to compromise me.  They also went to the Grand Lodge and reviewed the attendance book where my name appeared with that date.

It goes without saying how detailed they were with my case, trying to find some chink at least to implicate me.  They did not succeed.

Even now one would have to ask himself why the doctor who, according to Leticia Perez, received her, did not remember the case or having attended her, although she assured that said doctor told them that my ex had to return with a police officer.  All that is recorded in the investigative file.

To top it off, Leticia Perez falls into flagrant contradictions with her friend and mother of my son, who says in her statement, months later, that the Instructor refused to take her to the Forensic Medicine.  Which of these two lies?

According to Leticia Perez’s testimony, the mother of my son does not agree to see the doctor because our son would stop seeing me for a space of 25 years; nevertheless, from that moment she prohibited him from seeing me for a space of three and a half years, until my son could escape and look for me in secret. In all that time I could not even approach my son because the Senior officer Pablo had gotten a restraining order. On reading these false statements I remembered and was moved again by the story of Salomon and that mother who prefers the other (the false mother) to have the child in order not to hurt him further.

Another big contradiction: how are her words supported that she did not wish me to be punished by 25 years in jail, and nevertheless, she maintained for more than a month adding new complaints to the initial one? Between all these complaints, which were dismissed later in the process, they added 54 up to years of jail, which is more than double what Leticia Perez say the mother of my son avoided; and she still failed to add the accusation of attempted, on her presenting with her witness, Alexis Quintana, in the police station, which adds 20 years more, which would make a total of 74 years in jail.

It is surprising that the witness presented by the Prosecutor, Alexis Quintana, is spoken of because once more Leticia contradicts the experts who reviewed the video, considering it as spontaneous when he reveals before the camera that he was pressured by the police and bribed by the mother of my son and shows the gifts that she gave him as a bribe.  Then if Leticia Perez questions the video, is she assuring that the expert’s report is false?  It appears to me a wildness, impudent and malicious, that now they use said witness as proof, after the prosecutor was obliged to dismiss him and had to dismantle his petition for a sentence of 54 years, limiting himself to asking for 15 years imprisonment against me due to the lack of proof of the majority of accusations by my ex.

Also, thanks to the writing by Leticia some doubts are cleared up for me in this respect:  I never came to know for sure if it was only a comment or if there really existed that officer called Noriega who the false witness assured had gone before to warn that there would be a fire.  They never used that one, I only heard of him by word of the Investigator, but now I understand that it was a way propping up the witness, although I do not know for what motive they dismissed that strategy.

If it were true, this Officer Noriega would have committed several insubordinations, because besides not having skill and having heard the supposed witness, he would have been judged for not testifying and serving as a witness. Or is that the officer refused to lie or that they saw it not very judicious to come to this officer with the witness Alexis Quintana, who has an extensive rap sheet which includes, among other crimes, armed robbery and continuous fraud?

The prosecutor was the one who presented Alexis Quintana as a witness.  In the recorded video authenticated by the experts, he assures that he had warned the mother of my son that there was a short-circuit just in the place that was near a climbing plant that served as the roof on the patio and where there were dry leaves.  The video is on view on YouTube, and I believe it is sufficient evidence denouncing the terrible irregularities of the process against me.

I remember that as there was an old garage in the basement of the building, it always had oil and gasoline in the sink, in order to throw in the pipes where also, he told me, the sounds of rats were heard.  He asked me several times for fuel to dump there.  If it’s true that there was the odor of gasoline, maybe that is the reason.

I also want to say that when I started the blog in 2008 I still maintained some relationship as the father of our son. Only later when I began my stable relationship with a known Cuban actress did she begin to criticize and speak badly to my son about my partner. I say this in order to make note of my political position long before her denunciations, and there is a photo in her house that she herself took when the Security broke my arm a few months after the blog was started.

I also want to make clear that no one has wanted “to pass her off as crazy.”  As many friends and colleagues know, the mother of my son, since we were in a relationship, was tended by psychologists, and in fact a partner of Francisco Lopez Sacha who also worked in UNEAC took her to a psychologist friend of hers long before we separated.

It was the mother of my son herself who told me that on 1 September 2009 they hospitalized her at Hospital de Dia De Arroyo Naranjo, for two reasons:  she did not understand the losses of her grandmother and her marriage.  One month before her admission, the denunciations began.  She herself also told me that the doctor had proposed hospitalizing her full-time, but as she told him that she had a son and lived alone with him the doctor agreed to treat her on an outpatient basis.  They also decided to wait until the 1st of September because July was the boy’s vacation month with me, and he would spend August with her.  On several occasions I insisted to the investigator to search that clinical record, but I do not know why he never did so.

My lawyer demonstrates that in the photo of the supposed violence there only existed one graze wound, a type of scratch behind the ear.  The witness Alexis Quintana in the video clarifies that it was an herb that the mother of my son rubbed there because it served to irritate her face.  And the medical document, as the photo demonstrates, only refers to that light graze, and not as Leticia Perez asserts, that it was on both sides of the face.  The medical record also picks up no mark on her wrists or ankles as asserted by the reference witness.

Leticia Perez tries to exaggerate the events without, once more, support from the certificate of recognition, nor by the photo contained in the file. Her words are one thing and the proofs in the investigative file are something else.

I trust those honest Cubans who have joined this Campaign All Against Violence do not imagine the governmental dishonesty that is behind this effort to denigrate my image and to cover up the conviction without proofs with which they have condemned me.  I know that many of the signers have not had access to the necessary elements of trial, nor do they possess a means of seeing the video that clarifies by itself and denounces the macabre strategy against me.

Also Leticia Perez, in her statements in the investigative file, contradicts herself: in one statement she agrees that she called me some days before the complaint occurred in order to ask for my help for the mother of my son, who had no money to pay the rent and needed 50 CUC.

Then in another statement, only days later, she asserts that I stole from my son’s mother’s house a quantity of money, a little more than 100 CUC, when some days earlier I had purchased a television for our son for 340 CUC and for 120 CUC a de-humidifier that was in his room. What need did I have to steal that money from her if when she asked I gave it with pleasure and love because I knew that it was for the good of my son?  If the mother of my son had money, why did Leticia Perez, as she agrees in her statement, ask me for 50 CUC?

It is also necessary to clarify that the one who asserts that between Major Pablo and Kenia, the mother of my son, there existed an amorous relationship is the  same Alexis Quintana, who asserts in the video that he stayed in his apartment.  If he had supported the accusations that they made against me, today my sentence would not be 5 years but 54 years.

As my lawyer showed, given my stature and physical constitution, it is impossible for her to have a light scratch on only one side if the blows that she related were with both hands and with a closed fist on both sides of her face.

I cannot deny the shame that I feel on reading this defense.  Human miseries are so numerous that I feel revulsion towards everything regarding this plan against me.  It hurts so much to see my name vilified.  It hurts so much to have to show at each step that I am innocent.  I have achieved more than my Investigators, because my friends managed to undo the false witness.  My thanks to God for bringing us light to film that person.

With respect to the video that Leticia Perez describes it does not agree with or approach reality.  Alexis Quintana, besides not being threatened, having made two different videos, nor filmed reading a paper as she asserts trying to pervert reality, because I was informed by the Investigator that she saw the video, so why discredit it describing scenes of reading that she did not see?

In the end, Leticia Perez asks the same questions as I:  Why did they delay the process?  Why didn’t they gather more evidence, more real proof if they spent three and a half years trying to do so?

I know how delicate the matter is.  All of us who hear an injustice feel the waking of our instinct of solidarity.  That’s why, in this case in particular, they have wanted to proceed in the least transparent manner.

There is only one truth: I am innocent and I have been sentenced without proof. My witnesses were disqualified by the trail court, and then I was condemned by a mistaken article.  I only ask for a fair trial; in that I will consider myself absolved.   We just need justice in this country to access my petition.

A guilty person might have taken advantage of the opportunities to escape that presented themselves to me.  I have said, and I repeat, that I wanted to stay knowing what would happen, but it is enough that I know that I am innocent to confront the injustice.

I feel more free in this jail than in Miami.  From here I mock those who think they avenge themselves on me.  I am freer than they, and I will await justice at any time, even after finishing this unjust sentence.  One day the bright light of truth will come, and many will lower their heads because they consciously or unconsciously lent themselves to this crime that is committed against me.

Angel Santiesteban, La Lima Prison, Guanabacoa

To Redress a W

By Luis Felipe Rojas

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, the poet Rafael Alcides, published Acknowledgement of Receipt; a way of airing the case of Angel Santiesteban Prats.  I responded to him immediately: You are mistaken, Teacher….”  Alcides sent me this text which I want to share with you all apropos of  the opportunistic response of the eight Cuban writers, affiliated with UNEAC, on the occasion of the International Day of the Woman.

Here is the complete text:

Dear Luis Felipe:  Alcides gave me this assignment, but there is no visible mailing address to make the letter get to you, that’s why I leave it here for you.  On my blog today I published about Angel.

A hug,

Regina Coyula
Havana, March 2, 2013

From Rafael Alcides
To Luis Felipe Rojas:

My friend Luis Felipe:

Regarding the treatment of teacher that you give me in replying to my opinions about the recently butchered Angel Santiesteban, I will respond to you as Nicolas Guillen would have with his mischievous custom of town people:  “You are the teacher more than I.” As for as the reply, you leave me confused.  Either I do not know how to express myself, or you read hastily.  Let’s see.

I say on entering the subject that it is not a political case, I add ironically an “I have heard” that one could not fail to notice, and I proceed to demonstrate that indeed it is a political case, but I show it without editorializing, conforming to the method of the poets of all times:  leaving it said without saying it in an express manner so that it endures, so that the wind does not blow it away at least before it is read again, what Hemingway defined with the seriousness of he who was reclaiming right of discovery, “Theory of the Iceberg.”

But truthfully, I speak of marital disagreements magnified to the extreme of punishing our friend and excellent writer Angel Santiesteban with five years in jail, in its origin a private situation of that interminable list of things and domestic cases that fed our grandparent’s mockery, and then I pause to consider what the government now could do to release him.

Unshooting the one shot fired in error or for state reasons used to be done by previous governments, those that come after the fallen government, never the governments that committed the execution.  Aware of this important lesson of history, I did not mention possible solutions for the government, ways out with which we would both win. We, recovering our Angel and the government, what is going to happen, reserving for now the romantic role of knight with lance ready who come out to defend the honor of a lady.

You have to play the cards you are dealt, Luis Felipe. Unfortunately, Angel’s case is much more delicate than that of the 75 at the beginning of the century. Then everything was very clear, then the accuser was the government; this time, unfortunately, “I insist, unfortunately,” the accuser is Angel’s ex-wife, the mother of his son, “a son who is now 15 years old,” and that woman, that mother lied, yes, that woman, manipulated from the beginning or not, searched for false witnesses, fabricated marks of a beating rubbing her face with irritating leaves, perhaps, she spoke of death threats, fires, finally, friend Luis Felipe, that woman so in love that she would prefer to see her ex-husband burning in the bonfire before seeing him with another, put those people at the table, and they, of course, avid, greedy, as customary in these cases fallen from they sky when least expected, swiftly sat down to eat.

These are the facts.  God could not change them now.  Moving heaven and earth to get Angel is how much we can do for the moment, to go to speak with God if it is necessary (and I believe it is), without stopping insisting, of course, each with his tongue, that our friend is innocent, that a case was fabricated, but knowing that while his ex-wife does not contradict herself, they, the jailers, will be the good ones and Angel is the bad one. That is the situation.

Finally, Luis Felipe,  I do not usually argue with the reader, I respect his turn, but you are not a reader, coming out in defense of Angel with the passion with which you have done it on replying to me, you become part of myself given that I am also Angel, in this moment all of us who are in favor of getting Angel out of jail are Angel, that why I am explaining myself to you while admitting that yes, that maybe, that perhaps I have not made myself understood.

Because of your exceptional and unique character, this is a private delivery in the first instance, but only in the first instance, let’s say an homage to your person, by which you are authorized to publish on your blog or wherever it might seem convenient for you, that is to say useful for Angel.

I am one of those who think that honest men do not have one speech to walk and another to leave, as happens with shoes.  They have one, in my case, this from now on continues being the speech that you answered day before yesterday when I alone stopped seeing the point between the frozen crests in the immensity of the sea.

I embrace you, and again thank you for loving Angel as you do,

Rafael Alcides

 Translated by: mlk.

16 March 2013

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Prison Diary XXVII: Iroel Sanchez, Militant in his Interests

The then-president of the Cuban Book Institute could have been one of my witnesses in the trial that was set up against me, but our political differences and his offical functions did not permit him to put himself on the side of justice; which I never understood, because on the day that I might be a witness to any arbitrariness, I will come out in defense of the abused without caring for the ideals or religion he might profess. I like to say that I belong to the party of my feelings.

In the days of the 2009 Book Fair, barely five months before my ex-wife began her accusations against me, when I was talking with Iroel Sanchez at a corner of the fort concerning my attendance at the presentation of a book by the writer and dissident Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, outside the Fair, which Sanchez considered a “provocation” that the CIA was behind, we were interrupted by my ex, who was upset, her breathing labored and her posture hostile, and who asked me for explanations for having gone to the event in company of a lady, because “she could not stand it.”

Iroel, on seeing himself involved in that situation, excused himself, though not without first asking me to continue the conversation at another more opportune moment.

It is worth mentioning that I had separated from my ex two years before and was in a relationship, already public, with my current partner.

After Iroel Sanchez walked off, I asked her for respect and distance, but paying no attention she searched for the sales booth of the woman I was with, with whom I am still friends and whom I do not name out of respect, and rebuked her in front of her co-workers and her partner.

A friend who was impressed by the attitude of my ex, of whom she retains a violent image.

Iroel Sanchez himself, after we resumed the interrupted conversation, asked me to be careful of her because of her aggressiveness, because she seemed to be “in love.”

Nevertheless, in spite of having been present at that scene, Iroel Sanchez signed the letter headed by 8 women who began a campaign against me based on violence against a woman with the purpose of serving as a smoke screen to hide the regime’s abuses.

I have searched in my memory for personal experiences while we met on the cultural level, I as a writer and he as a State functionary, in order to analyze his behavior, without trying to judge him, only trying to understand.

Our disagreements began in 2001, the year in which I won the Alejo Carpentier prize for the book Los hijos que nadie quiso [“The Children Nobody Wanted”], when as a result of its publication the “Association of Cuban Combatants” sent a letter where they classified the book as “counterrevolutionary.” Later, Iroel Sanchez himself confessed to me that his companions from the war in Angola criticized him for having permitted its publication, thinking that he should have censored me.

Months later, at the Book Fair of Guadalajara, Mexico, he told me that the scene of the old woman with the little plate, from the story Lobos en la noche [“Wolves in the night”], for him was unendurable, that of many parts, it was the part that he could least bear.

Our big disagreement was with that posting where I made public the economic needs and shame suffered by the Cuban delegation to the Book Fair of Mazatlan, Mexico, which motivated the order that he gave to an unknown official to respond to me. This posting was also the reason why they cancelled the email service that I had been granted by the Ministry of Culture, with the objective of isolating me.

Another reason against me arose from post that I published on my blog, on the totally unfounded accusation that he made to a pair of young people with a baby that was passing by the training field at G and Malecón, saying that they did not want to return to him the portfolio which I had lost while walking there and which, according to him, they had found.

I also never shared his high-sounding speeches of honesty and austerity, which did not correspond with his lifestyle, using the resources of the Institution that he presided over for his personal benefit, such as when he put the car which had been assigned to him as an official at the disposal of his family, including fuel costs.

For me, I never knew what happened between him and Felipe Pérez Roque, after which they ousted the latter, whom he considered his great friend and with whom he had been a classmate at CUJAE [Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría], professing to him his delusions of student brotherhood and ideals.

His animosity towards Alpidio Alonso was no secret, when Alonso ceased to be president of the Saíz Brothers Association and went to the Institute as “Vice President without Portfolio” he offered the criticism that on the day on which he was not needed in the culture sector he would not sit and wait to be reassigned but would practice engineering, which was what he had studied.

At the end of his days in the Segundo Cabo Palace he did not comply with his rule, refusing to leave his position as president.

By those ups and downs of life, here in the prison I run into an inmate who had fought in Angola and overlapped with him in those days of “war.”

He tells how Iroel Sánchez and Juan Carlos Robinson (today also ousted after having been in senior positions of political power), were nicknamed “the runners” because when they felt the sound of the enemy shells firing, they were the first to arrive at the trenches. He also tells me, sadly, how they distributed the medals Robinson nominated.

Even more coincidentally, I also know another prisoner here who worked with him in the Juventud Comunista [Communist Youth], and who says that they identified him a “frustrated guard” because he was outstanding in doling out beatings, back in August 5, 1994, when some of the people in Havana, unhappy people, launched a protest in the streets*. Among them always there was the suspicion that Iroel sometimes was beating dissidents for pure pleasure, because he struck without necessity, just to prove that he had a better attitude than the others in “defense of the revolution.”

I have wanted to share here a series of experiences and facts, actions and feelings, to help me understand the human being, the greater ambition that, as an artist, haunts me.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats. Prison 1580. June, 2013.

*Translator’s note: This came to be called the “Maleconazo.”

Translated by mlk and Hombre de Paz

9 June 2013

Message from Angel Santiesteban, sent to the event “Detained Writers/Dispatched Writers”

Dear writers – French and from other nations present – critics, editors, translators, readers and the public in general:

I do not deny to you that after several days the news of this event slept inside the prison, mocking the constant and deep watchfulness over my person, without it being possible to calm my anxiety after receiving the news, as well as the fear that my contacts would be surprised and punished severely, until I was happily delivered on this past Thursday, May 30, I never imagined that solidarity against injustice and in favor of free writing, by bringing me back, would take such dimensions and awaken such beautiful feelings at the same moment in which I suffer unjustly.

Already you ought to know that my “crime” was to think differently, wrongly or not, to err is my right; but dictatorships, as everyone knows, do not accept the most negligible possibilities of dissenting from their policies.

Now, in order to write these words, I outwit all surveillance in my surroundings; any informer who reports on me, especially on my clandestine correspondence and contacts that mock the eyes of the censors, is awarded with gifts, and whoever does not do so, if the military learns that something was not reported – something as simple as me writing this now – is maligned as not being reliable and sent to a distant province, where his family can not visit him.

I could not deny to you and not make you participants, in the midst of so much negativity and arid penance, of the excitement that the news of this meeting today, Day 4, caused in me; I know that similar readings take place in other cities of Europe, convened by the PEN Club and other important institutions, and later on in September, the International Book Fair in Berlin. Several tears escaped from inside me as a sign of celebration and a thanksgiving to you; it was the only way to demonstrate my stealthy tribute.

Nor could I deny to you that, despite the misery that lives my country, and the misery that I live in my case in particular, I am on the altar of the homeland. I will have no space in another place, inside or outside of Cuba, while the dictatorship reigns.

I will definitely not leave our island while they do not respect the human rights and freedoms of the Cuban people. I will keep fighting, more now that I have encouragement from you, your prayers and the activist support that comes to Cuba, to me, from that meeting you are now holding.

Until freedom comes to my country, I will keep on denouncing the abuses and outrages against all hope, willing to pay the price of my life, if the time comes; but until today, I swear that God has not left me. I have no other way, I have this, that I am master of my steps though they have me behind bars. Meanwhile, and it is the unique luxury of revenge that could shelter my feelings, I write and I attempt – as all of you do – that literature justify each inhalation of my life and, in particular, of the place where I am today.

I want to reiterate my eternal gratitude to all the organizers of this reading, and to each and every one of those present, feel my embrace, one bathed with enthusiasm and optimism.

Long live the word, and long live freedom!

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

31 May 2013

Prison 1580

Havana, Cuba

Note from the Editors:

This message was sent by Ángel Santiesteban-Prats to give thanks for having been included in the reading tribute to the writers who suffer persecution and imprisonment, organized by La maison de l’arbre, la Biennale des poètes en Val de Marne, La Maison des écrivains et de la littérature et le Pen club français, “Écrivains empêchés/Écrivains dépêchés” (The Tree House, the Biennial of the poets in Val de Marne, The House of the Writers and the Literature and the French PEN Club, “Detained Writers/Dispatched Writers”).

In solidarity with the imprisoned Chinese writer Li Bifeng, the International Book Fair in Berlin called upon intellectuals, artists, universities, media, theaters and other cultural institutions around the world, to organize readings of tribute with the motive of the sad anniversary of the repression in Tiananmen Square and of the day of the World Wide Reading on the topic of resistance.

Among the readings which were done, Angel Santiesteban-Prats was distinguished, who is unjustly imprisoned in Cuba by the Castro dictatorship, for the simple “crime” of expressing himself freely in this, his blog.

His story, La luna, un muerto y un pedazo de pan (“The moon, a dead man and a piece of bread”) has been read by the French writer and poet, Irène Gayraud.

 Translated by Hombre de Paz

12 June 2013

Prison Diary XXXII: My Gratitude / Angel Santiesteban

Making a cut in the first quarter of a month in prison, I must thank in principle, the tantrum of the Castro brothers for my blog, for my opposition to the system, which led them to create a terrible judicial process against me that imprisoned me without proofs, and for having been convicted in advance by Agent Camilo of State Security, before the Court ruled.

I must also be grateful for the opportunity to share the pain of so many Cubans, mostly young people not able to leave the country or see any option other than crime, given that the spectrum of opportunities for young people is infinitesimal. I should also be grateful for the invaluable opportunity brought to me by power to conduct this sociological study of the problems in the nation from this “privileged” scenario, because here in this horrific concentration camp, everything is exposed.

Being here has allowed me to corroborate one more time that my attitude towards power is correct, and I will not stop denouncing the abuses and irresponsibility of the Government toward its citizens.

To top it off, during these four months of confinement, I have maintained the level of complaints because the violations of the human rights they commit daily, because there is no day when they don’t beat the prisoners, who although fainting, continue to be badly beaten; because the food, which I have never accepted, is terrible with fetid odors, badly processed, lacking refrigeration, in short, pestilent; because the overcrowding reigns, because hygiene is non-existent.

Despite all this daily calamity, I have finished three novels and a book of short stories. By the way, the last I wrote was seized by Major Llorente, the “unit’s politico,” in reprisal because in Paris he read a story of mine, at an event that paid tribute to imprisoned and persecuted writers. Thank God it was a work I’d managed to get out with my family, and it is well-protected. As a gift, when I have it completely finished, I am thinking of giving him a copy, precisely because it talks about his horrors in the prison to which I have been confined.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580

Editors’ note: The day after tomorrow, June 28, Angel Santiesteban will complete 4 months in prison, months in which he has contributed in an exemplary way to denouncing all the abuses committed in Cuba which the world, with its complicit silence, blesses. The most difficult 4 months that he has served with absolute dignity, with his head held high and looking into his eyes, with the peaceful spirit a peaceful conscience provides. He is “doing” and writing the story that few dare to tell. We, his family and friends, are very proud of him. God bless him!

26 June 2013

Prison Diary XXXI: My World on a Little Piece of Paper

Every morning, on waking up, surrounded by inmates surprised by my “good mornings” to which they respond with commitment, and then I entrust myself to God, I immerse myself in a blank piece of paper, because I feel I am just an instrutment, someone who takes dictation, His creation. I comes so naturally that I underestimate the physical exercise I do.

From that moment, my country is the white space where I scribble in a supreme intent to transmit my feelings. Then, the universe is reduced to these centimeters of possible writing. It is the space which is my duty and governs me.

And I immerse myself in my work, in this obligation to my thinking, my feelings and my ideals. Like a hermit, I abandon the hostile environment that surrounds me, I work tirelessly for human betterment, for the freedom of Cubans facing a harsh dictatorship, and if possible, to add some literature valid for my generation and my time.

And I laugh at the constant surveillance, their informers, their unscrupulous persecution, their blackmail, their pressures and their punishments, because I’m not on their level of reality, across time, and by then, bareback in the redemptive Cuban jungle, feeling the sweat on the back of my horse, the weight of the machete I hold and squeeze, while the trumpet sounds the Call to Slaughter.

Ángel Santiesteban Prats
Prison 1580

24 June 2013

Prison Diary XXIX: Censorship in Prison / Angel Santiesteban

You could not imagine the artifices and movements required to get a complaint, a post, a letter where you say what you want to your family or friends about what you feel or what happens in prison, out of prison, without its being seized.

All the documents that leave or enter the prison have to pass by the eyes of the Re-education officer.

Thursday mornings the correspondence is collected, and from then until Friday afternoon, it passes through several readings by the censors, who do or don’t approve it.

This also occurs in reverse, families send letters, and after being read with great care the inmate receives them.

It’s unnecessary to clarify that in my particular case the control measures are redoubled.

Last week my family heard nothing from me, because the officer took the correspondence without noticing, according to what the Re-educator told me.

In any event, I look for alternative ways to get my complaints on the Internet, bypassing the various levels of obstacles.

It’s worth nothing that the common prisoners lend their help in this communication bridge, motivated by the dream of a political change, as well as anger awakened by the guards with their excesses and blackmail.

It’s like a cat and mouse game to get the complaint to its destination, because to avoid them they resort to any unprincipled trick. There are prisoners who earn perks not to let me out of their sight, attentive to every detail.

They have ordered their collaborators to inform on the names of everyone who associates with me. In recent days they have removed five inmates, accusing them of collaborating with me. They are taken to different barracks or other prisons, sometimes located in distant provinces.

To talk on the phone I have to wait for my dat each week, and carefully plan the three minutes allowed, because the clock that calculates the time measures it whether or not you manage to communicate, without any margin.

But every victory, no matter how small, is a pleasure. Of course they hid me away in the this maximum security prison to limit my connection to the outside, another attempt by the Castro brothers’ Government to silence my voice.

One day we will publicly thank those people who have risked their tranquility in prison so that the world will know the horrors that are committed in the prisons of the Castro dictatorship.

Finally, my thanks to State Security’s military prisons which have held me here, allowing me to be a witness to the daily abuses that happen in Cuban prisons before the complicit eyes of those who direct the destinies of the Island; what happens within the Guantanamo Naval Base, as described in the official discourse of complaint, can’t hold a candle to what happens in Cuba’s own prisons.

They should see the level of impunity with which the Cuban government acts.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580. May 2013

Posted 18 June 2013

Prison Diary XXX: Internet in Cuba / Angel Santiesteban

The Cuban government announces Internet connection points around the country, proving that the cable extending from Venezuela, which was the pretext for justifying out exile from browsing the digital networks, is working in the nation. They say, however, that it has not yet been approved for use in Cuban households thus maintaining the iron surveillance of the dictatorship.

With an exorbitant price for Cubans, those who earn the highest salaries would have to work about five days to consume one hour of connection, ie the best paid may consume five hours a month, but this would not allow them to also feed or clean themselves, and they would have to pray to have no dependents to maintain.

The “points” indicated, according to official information, will be the Youth Clubs, which belong to the leadership of the Young Communists, and it will be a way to announce to the world that in Cuba the population “has” internet.

When I heard the news that an hour of connection would cost 4.50 CUC, just over 110.00 Cuban pesos, which is the currency that is paid to the people who sweat, I did the calculation below: a midlevel teacher would have to work seven days just to hear from his family abroad, because reading news would be impossible treat to give yourself.

As the government does not solve nor interest itself in social problems, and we know this through each measure it dictates, it is not hard to convince oneself that it’s looking to get nationals out of the hotel internet rooms and away from tourists, and to some extent to limit the protection of dissidents who, in the majority of cases, are not arrested in tourist areas so as not to damage even further the tarnished image that the regime has earned abroad.

Now from the Youth Clubs, located in the city slums, they can pursue, monitor and suppress the footsteps of those who dare to criticize the government and demand  Human Rights; and in passing they will alter their figures, as they often do, and will tell the Human Rights Commission in Geneva that the internet is free and available to those who need it; what they won’t say is that for the average citizen, the use of it will be an act of science fiction.

21 June 2013

The judicial farce against Angel Santiesteban reminds me of the celebrated narrator Reinaldo Arenas and the poets Heberto Padilla and Raul Rivero

 Three Memories of Angel Santiesteban

Miguel Iturria Savon

On September 2, 2011, I published on Cubanet the article SOS for Angel Santiesteban, then beset by the political police of the Cuban government in spite of being a writer who had been awarded multiple prizes by the regime’s own institutions.  At the end of 2012 Angel was sentenced to five years in prison after a rigged trial in which they used his ex-wife as the spear point against him.  I will not refer to the details of the case because they still circulate in various writings and on Santiesteban’s blog, but to my personal impressions about this artist of the word.

Before personally meeting the author of Dreams on a Summer Day, The Children That Nobody Wanted, Blessed Are Those Who Mourn and South: Latitude 13, I read his books and heard several anectdotes that reflect his temperament and satirize the Cuban political situation.  It is hard to forget some characters from his stories about the jail and the Cuban intervention in the African wars.  Maybe the magisterial design of those alien beings that gallop on the pages of his works are the true cause of the humiliating judicial proecess that is trying to override his rebelliousness and the voice of this bold man without masks.

As my son was a lawyer for Angel Santiesteban I had the privilege of receiving him in my Havana home and talking with him frequently over a glass of water — Angel does not drink rum or coffee.  We talked of literature and of his family experience. Only on one occasion, on asking him about one of his characters, did he reveal to me the traumatic trace of his brief stay in prison before reaching age 20, after being arrested on the north coast while saying goodbye to a relative who tried to flee the island on a raft.

I met several times with Santiesteban in the home of blogger Yoani Sanchez and in the cultural gatherings organized in the residence of physician Antonio Rodiles, leader of the program Estado de Sats.  I remember that Angel hardly intervened in the debates and always sat at the end of the room, distant from posturing and prominence but cordial with whoever approached him.  Finally he would leave in his car with four or five people whom he dropped off at their homes.

The last time we met was opposite the Infanta and Manglar police station next to the building “Fame and Applause,” where half a hundred opponents were demanding the liberation of Antonio Rodiles, detained after the funeral of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, dead in a suspicious accident.  We spoke there while Wilfredo Vallin and Reinaldo Escobar tried to negotiate with the Chief of the Station, surrounded also by a gang of delinquents who awaited orders from Security officials to kick and drag the opponents.

The judicial farce against Angel Santiesteban reminds me of the celebrated narrotor Reinaldo Arenas and the poets Heberto Padilla — incarcerated in 1971 — and Raul Rivero — sentenced in 2003, victims of a dictatorship that punishes liberty of expression and promotes the quietism and complicit silence of the intellectuals.

Published in Island Anchor

 Translated by mlk.

Spanish post
9 June 2013

A Shameful Stab in the Back for Angel Santiesteban from UNEAC / Amir Valle, Angel Santiesteban

The writer Angel Santiesteban Prats and his son Eduardo Ángel some years ago.

By Amir Valle

The strategy of UNEAC and certain “disinformed” writers against Ángel Santiesteban

One more shame falls on the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba. This time, the shame is a dirty attack, manipulative and disloyal, against Ángel Santiesteban.

I read it in the blog “The Unknown Island,” by the Cuban essayist and journalist Enrique Ubieta, and it appears to be signed in principle by eight women, among whom we find some of the writers most admired for their work. But more than these signatures, what catches my attention is their taking advantage of the accusation against Angel Santiesteban to call for a struggle against violence toward women and to initiate with this article (embarrassingly manipulative) a campaign to collect signatures.

It is, in short, another step in the campaign to criminalize Ángel Santiesteban.

The initial question that I pose to the signatories is this: The person or persons who have hatched this campaign, have they had the decency to give you access to the documents that both the prosecutor and the attorney used in the trial? I, from Germany, only had to ask that they send me everything by email, and it was enough for me to read both files: Prosecution and Defense, to add my name to the call that we, his colleagues and friends, have made internationally in support of someone like Ángel Santiesteban.

I write these words from the deep respect that I feel for women, whom as a Christian I consider the most perfect creation of God. I have demonstrated this in my life and my professional career. Just this March 8, when you signed this document, I marked 16 years of marriage with a woman I consider responsible for all the good things I’ve done since I’ve known her.

And just as you were signing, I gave a lecture on literature written by women in Cuba, in which, of course, I mentioned some of you, proud of having been a witness to one of the most solid literatures written by women in the Spanish language, and, moreover, proud, until today, of being the only Cuban writer who decided one day to discover, promote and include in four anthologies the work of these Cuban women writers. As you surely know, I’m proud to say that many of the most important women writers in Cuba today saw their first stories published in my anthologies.

The lie is lame

“The truth always catches up with the lie, now matter how much it runs.”

I believe in that maxim. I know the mechanism for soliciting this type of signature: They ask you to sign against something or someone without putting all the real cards on the table; they want you to come out against something or someone only explaining to you the official version, the part of the facts that suits them. For that reason I have decided to write to you (and to those who want to read this article), inviting them (inviting everyone), to respond with dignity and integrity to these questions.

A brief introduction

I am one of the few people who can witness directly from the beginning the relationship between Ángel Santiesteban and Kenia Rodríguez, the mother of Eduardito, this boy they both conceived.

At that time, I lived in Ángel’s house and was very close to the beginning of this love story, diverted today, sadly, into hatred. I remember that Ángel brought only virtue and a better life from the beginning of their relationship. Kenia worked in a Chinese restaurant, and thanks to Ángel’s tenacity, she managed to start a UNEAC course in theater production. Years later I saw Kenia traveling abroad, accompanying Ángel on cultural trips.

Now Kenia is the complainant in the case for which he has been sentenced. I don’t know what little bird whispered in Kenia’s ear that made her, two and a half years after their separation as a couple, decide to initiate a series of personal accusations “oddly and coincidentally” just after Angel opened his blog, “The Children Nobody Wanted,” and his former wife began a steady love affair with a well-known artist. It would be good to note that Kenia, even acknowledging publicly that Ángel was an excellent father, forbade any relationship between the boy Eduardo and his father. Now it is known that, in secret from his mother, Eduardo sought out his father when he was barely 15-years-old.

Knowing Kenia as I do, I would like to make an appeal to her conscience so that she will see the light, so she will tell and defend the truth, without lending herself to any guy’s manipulations, above all for the well-being of the son that was born from this love; I call on the courts to reopen a case that, as the defense attorney showed, should be legally annulled because of the great quantity of procedural and judicial irregularities committed; and I call on the decency of those who have launched from their offices or those who have naively joined the campaign of criminalization without assessing the pure truth of the facts.

From my point of view, I noticed in the whole trial against Ángel Santeisteban sufficient evidence to strongly affirm that it’s a matter of an absurd and crude strategy by State Security to silence his voice. They are afraid of the impact that his criticisms could have, coming from a writer of his courage and reknown.

If I could find one single factor of merit that demonstrates Angel’s guilt in the crimes attributed to him, I never would have raised my voice in the way I did. I have even written that if Angel is guilty of something, he should be condemnded for that. But what we have seen, in the police work as well as in the judicial process, is so full of fraud, irregularities, violations and attempts at corruption and lies against Angel, that surely we can raise our voices to denounce this outrage.

We have rallied prestigious institutions (the majority of them not political) to take up our defense. And we have done it with proof in hand. I therefore encourage anyone who reads this article to offer answers substantiated by the truth to the following questions:

Why weren’t the complaints consistent from the beginning, and why did it take more than a month between the first and the last act, when according to the complaint it was a matter of a sequence of facts that occurred the same day? One month later did Kenia remember details that were supposed to be certain, that remained in her memory?

Why did the complainant present the medical certificate with a date previous to that of the complaint?

Why did the doctor, who supposedly signed the warrant, according to the declaration that is on record in the investigative file, not remember having attended her nor even remember the case?

Why did the complainant lie on the day of the trial, asserting that she was taken to the hospital, accompanied by the police, after making the complaint, if the date of the warrant shows that it was prepared one day before?

Why did the Provincial Court accept these lies, in spite of the attorney’s claim in the closing statement of the oral hearing? Why did the Supreme Court, which is supposed to be the petitioner in charge of ensuring the facts, not see that these violations didn’t occur?

Why, as was verified later, did Mayor Pablo, Chief of the heads of the Plaza Municipality sectors, who was involved in a love affair with the complainant, pressure the prosecution witness to not recant, and for what motive did he advise Kenia Rodriguez, according to the same informer, to confess before Angel and his son?

Why was the case file reopened after having been archived upon determining that there was no cause to send it to the Prosecutor and open a lawsuit?

Why reopen a file when never before did they take Kenia’s accusations seriously (performing only the bureaucratic process of listening to her), upon the evidence, according to the investigator’s own words, of Kenia’s nervous disorder and the constant sham and inconsistencies in her declarations? Why did the complainant commit blunders when referring to them?

If there aren’t political reasons, why try to convert a man considered an exemplary citizen and a distinguished writer into a public monster at the moment he decides to publish criticisms about the Cuban political reality through his blog? Why does this campaign of criminalization coincide so well with his being marginalized in the national culture?

Why was the file forgotten (archived) just until the invitation from the First Festival of the Word in Puerto Rico arrived, where Ángel Santiesteban would participate together with a group of intellectuals (from the Left, but with positions critical toward the political reality in Cuba)? Why did they “casually” cite him with urgency and decide to impose on him a bail of $1,000 pesos, thereby preventing his participation in the said event, which has international prestige in literary circles? Why, just at the moment when the international impact of his blog would grow and just when he would enjoy the promotion of his work and critical labor as a blogger in an international festival did they decide to impose on him the precautionary measure?

Why did they send the case investigator (yes, the same person who had archived the file) on a different tack, and mysteriously extract the file to take it to another police unit with another investigator? Why did this investigator reopen everything trying to implicate Santiesteban during three years, without being able to find the least glimmer of evidence that would tie him to the facts? What obliged this investigator to pressure, blackmail and harass the witnesses, investigating them in their neighborhoods and spreading the rumor that the neighbors might be implicated in the murder of a foreigner? Why, as these witnesses confessed, were they pressured to give up their decision to testify in favor of Angel?

Why did they wait three and one-half years to have the oral hearing? Why after setting it for the day of April 3, 2009, did they suspend the hearing? Why did they violate in such a flagrant manner the Penal Code that establishes that once a date is ratified and the parties notified, the matter can’t be suspended and they can’t return to an investigation, except if new evidence comes up in the same oral hearing that the Court needs to investigate? Did they not understand that no elements existed to judge the accused and sanction him, as they finally did? Did they understand that it was too obvious that they were committing an unwise injustice and, later, if they didn’t prepare well, they wouldn’t be able to justify the punishment for lack of evidence?

Why did the file travel several times to the Provincial Court after being dismissed each and every one of these times?

Why did they have to threaten the first attorney, as she herself admitted, obliging Angel to look for another legal representative who would not let himself be pressured?

Why did the Prosecutor, police and the complainant (in my opinion encouraged by the impunity they felt at being supported by State Security) set up a false “witness” who, thanks to the astuteness of Santiesteban’s friends, they were able to unmask? Why did the judges not throw out a case obviously invented, before the overwhelming evidence of this video where the false witness relates the pressure he received from the police to declare himself against Santiesteban? Why did Kenia, if she knew the truth, need to bribe the witness, as he could compromise himself in the video where the same witness exhibits the gifts he received as a bribe?

Why, from the time that Santiesteban said he knew about the video (authenticated as real and valid by an experienced official), did the Prosecutor find himself obligated to withdraw these crude accusations that, among other things, were accumulating the exorbitant sum of 54 years in prison for the extensive and fastidious list of false accusations? Why, upon seeing them discovered so clearly, did they have to dismiss the 15 years the Prosecutor was requesting as punishment for all the supposed crimes?

Why starting from this moment, instead of annulling the case because of the amount of irregularities (perjury of the claimant and demonstration of her intention to harm Angel at all cost) did they decide to return the file to the investigative phase, to readjust it and continue with their malevolent plan? Why and for whom did they study it for several months in the police unit, and later in the Provincial Prosecutor’s office?

Important and suspect: Why was the file requested from the General Prosecutor of the Republic?

Something else important and suspect: Why did the file record, in a note signed and sealed by the police investigator, “Urgent Interest of the Minister”? Why was a supposed case of “domestic violence” handled at the highest level of the Ministry of the Interior?

Still more important and more suspect: If there were no political plot behind all this, why was the file sent from the General Prosecutor to the General Headquarters of State Security in Villa Marista, according to what Santiesteban’s attorney was told in the same General Prosecutor’s office? Why, if the General Prosecutor of the Republic said that the file was in Villa Marista, when the defense attorney presented himself at Villa Marista, did they deny that the file was there? What did they have to hide?

Why did the Investigator continue with this false report, if, in spite of his bold attempt to implicate Santiesteban, he could not manage to set a trap?

Why did the Prosecutor, beginning with the aforementioned video of the false testimony, feel obligated to withdraw the complaints, leaving only the minor offenses: “home invasion and injuries”? Why did they keep these accusations, if the same video had already proven that Kenia Rodriguez was lying, for which she could be prosecuted for the crime of perjury, which was not done?

If it was a matter of a supposed ordinary crime, why did they hold the trial in the Main Hall of State Security, in the special headquarters in Carmen and Juan Delgado? Why were members of State Security posted outside? Why, as many witnesses could substantiate, were buses distributed “with veterans and enthusiastic people who spontaneously agree to defend their revolution”?

Why did the Court put Santiesteban in the totally indefensible position of not being able to call his own witnesses? Why, in return, did it keep the flimsy prosecution “witnesses”, all of them State functionaries and soldiers, obviously conspiring to try to give some credibility to the sanction, which, surely, had already been handed down?

How is it possible that a court can accept as convincing truth the testimony of the handwriting expert who stated that Angel was guilty because of the “size and inclination of his writing”, when the defense lawyer demonstrated scientifically and legally that handwriting, according to international norms, cannot ever be considered a conclusive truth?

Why did the Court reject the defense attorney’s testimony that, thanks to his friendship with the complainant, he could affirm that Kenia Rodriguez had told him on several occasions of her intentions to cause harm to the father of her son, meaning to Angel? Why also did they not take into account the declarations of the boy’s teacher (the Director of his school, considered a dependable person), who stated that the child confessed to him that his mother obliged him to lie about his father to damage his public image? Why also, “curiously” did they throw out the statements of three other witnesses, who showed that Angel Santiesteban was somewhere else just at the time that Kenia, supposedly, was being abused by him?

Why did the professionals, who attended the oral hearing–the lawyers, ex-prosecutors, intellectuals–after hearing the parties, agree that Angel was innocent and should be absolved, that absolutely nothing was presented that would incriminate him, except the declaration of the Lieutenant Colonel (the handwriting expert), who stated that he was guilty because of his inclined handwriting?

It’s enough to appeal to a little decency, a small quota of ethics, in order to conclude, before these terrible irregularities, that all this, even though it appears to be a joke, is a stifling and hallucinatory sin.

But if they weren’t enough, I want answers to some more questions:

Important proof of infamy: Why did the State Security official known as Camilo, after beating up Angel Santiesteban, November 8, 2012, tell him, “Aren’t the five years years we’re going to toss at you enough?”? In front of a witness, Eugenio Leal, Angel said, “Some day you will pay for your abuse,” and Camilo responded, “When I pay, you already will have.” How could Angel Santiesteban, thanks to agent Camilo, alert the international community about his sentence one month before the Court sentenced him?

Why was the sentence excessive, as the defense showed in the appeal, if the court recognizes Santiesteban as a citizen who is distinguished by his intellectual work, nationally and internationally, and there are no prior offenses, circumstances that, according to Cuban legislation, are attenuating, which could drastically reduce any sentence?

Why do multiple cases exist in this same Court, processed for the same supposed crime, sometimes with weapons involved and with people with a full criminal history, and in none of the cases did the sentences come close to five years’ deprivation of liberty?

Why, again “curiously”, did the Court make a mistake in the second clause, which added one more year to the sentence? Why wasn’t this annulled, as established by law for this type of procedural “error”?

Why did the Superior Court, which had a decent opportunity to amend the scope of this injustice, catalogue as “without place” (meaning, they didn’t accept it) the diligently-researched file presented by the lawer as a Cause for Appeal, in the face of the enormous list of irregularities committed in this case?

I have many other questions. I only ask whoever reads this article that they don’t judge without having the evidence. To the present and future signatories of this call for signatures, “Zero Tolerance for Violence against Women”, that UNEAC now brandishes, deceitfully, taking advantage of Angel Santiesteban’s case, I now remember that in the history of our country, we intellectuals have been participants in many injustices simply by not searching for the truth and by conforming ourselves to what our government officials tell us.

I, convinced by the evidence of Angel’s innocence, continue asking these questions. I don’t expect them to be answered, although perhaps they should be.

Why did Kenia Rodriguez, the supposed victim, if she were convinced of the solidity of her accusations, tell her son that she conceived him with Angel’s love, and “that I never thought to bring a lawsuit”?

Why and who, again “casually”, decided and authorized that they wait until the International Book Fair in Havana conclude to emprison the writer Angel Santiesteban if the sentence was already handed down?

Why does Angel Santiesteban now not falter, if he is an intelligent and humble man, who other times has seen fit to publicly recognize the mistakes in his personal and professional life?

Why does he feel so proud to find himself in prison?

Why has he decided to give State Security a lesson in principles and loyalty to his ideas, reminding them with his performance and his writings that this move against him is simply a punishment, an underhanded message about power against Cuban intellectuals and the martyrdom that those who decide to rebel against the establishment can suffer?

They do what they can do against Angel, and I am certain that History will reclaim him some time as one of the cleanest, most transparent intellectuals and brave fighters of his time inside Cuba in these so-convulsed times that we Cubans live in. I know him with his virtues and his defects. I feel proud to be a member of his generation of writers; I am filled with pride at his brotherhood, and I feel proud to be the friend of one of these Cubans who, from the island, fights so that all of us can have the right to think with our own heads, have our differences respected, express our criticisms and nonconforming politics, without being catalogued by the government with the classic, trite, derogatory labels that up to today they have used, those who defend totalitarian thought, which, happily, each day that passes, has more cracks in Cuba.

Published under “Personal Thoughts”, Amir Valle’s blog.

 Translated by Regina Anavy 

Spanish post
9 March 2013

Prison Diary XXVIII. The Works of Servando Cabrera Declared National Patrimony Too Late

A few years ago, I published several posts calling on the conscience of the intellectuals who were working as State officials not to continue online auctions of Cuban cultural heritage with its diverse wealth. Among those I mentioned were the work of Cuban painter Servando Cabrera Moreno (1923 -1981), one of the great masters of the national art which they were decimating without the least scruples.

I cited the names of worthy intellectuals who were representing cultural institutions they directed and who were bleeding our arts, such as La Casa de las Americas.

Unfortunately, the committed an act of omission by not confronting the interests of the States, which controls the designs of the country, although the selling of the greatest worth of any nation — its culture — is an act worthy of a pirate.

It is a shame that the intellectuals have remained silent for more than half a century and only express themselves after consulting and getting approval from the regime, despite knowing that otherwise, today they would be in the same bed as me, in this stinking prison.

In any event, I’m glad that the museum dedicated to the painter can gather what is left of his work, it having been plundered for years. And it also makes me happy that those who then stood silently by and criticized my honest stand to defend what belongs to us as our own right — although this has contributed to my being here today — now come and celebrate the news.

I will continue to raise my voice to unite consciences until the Havana Auction that sells the work of artists — as happens every year — ceases.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580, June 2013

9 June 2013