Amidst Rumors and Disinformation,Angel Santiesteban Continues Missing

{*Translator’s Note: Angel disappeared from prison on July 21, 2014. As of today he has not been heard from for 29 days.}

Five days* have passed now since the disappearance of the writer Angel Santiesteban in Havana, barely hours after he wrote a post from Lawton prison,  in which he announced to the world that there were strong rumors that the Regime’s prison authorities would transfer him to a higher security prison.

After his disappearance from said prison last July 21, without the Cuban authorities informing family members of anything, another rumor started circulating: supposedly, Angel Santiesteban had escaped. In a telephone call that the writer’s son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban, made to the prison, worried at not knowing anything about his father, a minor official confirmed the rumor. “I don’t know if they did it to scare me, to make me more nervous than I am,” said the 16-year-old, on the Columbian television program, Night, Channel NTN24. In conversations with family and friends he has said that he feels this lie by the regime’s prison officials is a bad sign.

Maria de los Angeles Santiesteban Prats said the same thing, from Miami: “The telephone harassment I’m suffering since my brother disappeared in Cuba, and other information we have obtained and that can’t now be revealed in order to protect some people on the island and in exile, make me think that this is another maneuver of the dictatorship: Spreading this rumor about my brother’s escape serves only to deflect attention from something big they are doing to him and that they don’t want known.” In a conversation with the NeoClub Press agency, she affirmed that “They are blackmailing me; last night, for example, I received an anonymous call coming from Japan. They call me and tell me that it’s better that I shut up, that I’m going to end up losing.”

A simple analysis of the facts preceding Santiesteban’s disappearance is enough to confirm the family’s suspicions.

After many months without responding to the Request for Review of the judgment against Angel, undertaken by the defense attorney last year, the Cuban judicial authorities (as they have now demonstrated in this case, manipulated by the Cuban political police) received a hard blow which totally undid the judicial farce they prepared to condemn the lauded Cuban writer to five years for a supposed crime of domestic violence. One of the principal prosecution witnesses, the writer’s own son, Eduardo Angel Santiesteban, granted an interview to Television Marti, in which he explained that being a minor he was forced and manipulated by his mother – Kenia Diley Rodriguez – at the urging of Castro’s State Security, forcing him through psychologists and other specialists, to declare against his father.

In this interview, and in a later one on the television program Colombia Night, he confessed that he never saw anything like what his mother said Angel did, and that the political police took advantage of “amorous” problems between his parents, inciting Kenia Diley Rodriguez to collaborate in a plot to punish Angel’s dissident stance and the international denunciations that he made in his blog, The Children Nobody Wanted. This evidence, which exposed the dirty strategy of State Security, makes it logical to think that the regime would want to punish the writer and his family with this disappearance. It’s not an isolated fact, since every Cuban dissident who has been incarcerated can tell similar stories.

Another detail that casts doubt about the rumor of flight is the same post the writer sent from prison, hours before his disappearance, in which he made known that one of the possible reasons of his transfer was the fact that two high government officials, condemned for corruption, would be sent to Lawton prison, where he was located. Logic imposes itself: It was necessary to transfer Angel to avoid his making contact with these officials and thereby getting first-hand information about the corruption in high spheres of the island’s government.

A third event to take into account would be the constant threats that Angel received in the last months to stop writing denunciations in his blog. In spite of these threats, in spite of the fact that he had to hide in order to write and look for different ways of eluding the vigilance to get his writing out of prison, they didn’t manage to shut him up; so that, in communication with his friends and family, he had shown his suspicion that they would transfer him to a higher security prison (thereby violating the established legal procedure for cases with his sanction), if only to avoid his continued denunciation of the most sinister face of a dictatorship that pretends to show itself to the world as a truly human system.

Finally, as Angel Santiesteban’s international prestige has grown, the repressive forces of the regime have become more rabid and impotent. Its murderous blindness doesn’t permit them to digest the fact that important intellectual and international human rights institutions have their eyes on the writer, unjustly imprisoned on the island; that this world recognition has allowed him to receive the Jovenaje 2014 award, which is granted every year for the work and life of an important Cuban intellectual, and that Reporters Without Borders has included him on the list of the world’s 100 Information Heroes.

“Something big has happened and they are hiding it,” said Maria de los Angeles, Angel’s sister, in several interviews these last days. “I demand that they show my brother alive and well, because he never has had the intention of escaping.”

We have mentioned it many times but it’s good to remember it again: The little time he has been in prison, Angel was visited by agents of State Security to offer him his freedom in exchange for abandoning his antagonistic position and testifying about this compromise in a video. After roundly refusing, they told him he should look for a friendly embassy to arrange his deportation, something Angel also roundly refused. It’s also good to remember again how many times they threatened him with death, in prison or before.

Obviously they don’t make such proposals to a simple “home invader”; if anyone knows something about home invasions it’s the regime; it’s a daily practice with which they try to intimidate the valiant and peaceful opposition. And they know about maltreating women, which we can add to everything the world knows and consents to with its complicit silence. The Castro regime takes the prize for its duplicitous discourse, now charging Mariela Castro to “sell” the image of an open government that respects gender diversity. It’s enough to see the brutal images of aggression against the Ladies in White, to know their testimonies, along with that of other dissident women and LGBT activists who don’t conform to the designs of the dictatorship, to know how much falsity there is in that Castrista discourse.

Angel has spent five days* in an unknown location, and WE DEMAND HIS IMMEDIATE APPEARANCE IN PERFECT CONDITION. We demand that finally justice be done, and that after the Revision of the judgment, with all its procedural guarantees, he be freed because HE IS INNOCENT.

RAUL CASTRO is absolutely responsible for what can happen to Angel, and WE WARN THAT THERE ARE NO POSSIBLE ACCIDENTS to justify what they can do. The international community is witness to all this horror happening to Angel, and NOW THERE IS NO PLACE FOR IMPUNITY. The same goes for his minor son, EDUARDO ANGEL SANTIESTEBAN RODRIGUEZ.

The Editor

Maria de los Angeles Santiesteban, in the name of the whole family

Amir Valle

Lilo Vilaplana

Follow the link to have Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by Regina Anavy, August 18, 2014

26 July 2014

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s