When Freedom Becomes Agony / Angel Santiesteban

 

“Thank you Fidel, for all you give us…”

Prisoners curse their freedom

Convicts say that when they get a pass for almost 72 hours every 10 days, their worries increase. They experience a major agony in the sense of feeling useless before the economic situation of their families. The little money they earn as slaves of the Regime that keeps them captive barely lets them satisfy the shortages that exist at home. They find their families without food, the children without shoes to go to school, and the electrical appliances broken, among other calamities.

In the first hours at home, already they have exhausted their savings, seeing themselves obligated to loan or offend, with the goal that at the end of their days on pass, their families remain with the minimum of needs guaranteed.

Once back in their beds in prison, they recognize that it’s preferable to be a prisoner, since they suffer less when they don’t have to confront the everyday reality and the constant pain of not knowing how to find a solution, how to stay on top of the poverty, without the familiar temptation of breaking the law.

“At least while we’re in prison we’re not suffering. We don’t see how poor our kids are,” they assert. “And we avoid crime, because we also know that it’s the only possible way to solve things,” says a convict, with whom the rest agree, and he affirms that “it’s preferable to be a prisoner, eat the acid, dirty rice with picadillo, to be beaten and put in a cell each time you feel like venting, than to see your loved ones looking at you like sparrows with open beaks, waiting for us to do a magic act and get some food to fall into them,” he says, and he keeps silent for a bit.

“Outside things have gotten worse. We feel fear when we leave because surely we’ll commit some misdeed,” someone affirms from the door, “and the hard part is to start another more severe sentence,” adds another. “We will never have the chance to be those ’citizens’ they want us to be, because society and the laws forget that we don’t have the least possible chance of surviving without stealing, and if we don’t, we would die of hunger.”

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, March 2014.

Please follow the link and sign the petition to have the Cuban dissident Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Translated by Regina Anavy

12 March 2014

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