Monthly Archives: October 2014

Sensitive Issues / Angel Santiesteban

Moment at which the Government’s TV show “Cuba’s Reasons” declared Angel Santiesteban Prats “guilty”

In the days when they arrested me, between last July 21 and August 13, among other questions, the State Security officials questioned me about my economic support. In this regard, I’d never imagined that others would be interested in this aspect, but as the Cuban government likes to accuse every opponent of being a mercenary, I’d like to make this public.

Since I’m in prison, my sister María de los Ángeles, who has always supported me, assumed this role, not without pain on my part, because she didn’t send me her excess, not even from reducing her wishes and desires, but from her own sweat, the same sacrifice, because as she likes to say, “I am the poorest person in the United States, but the richest of any Cuban found inside Cuba.” In addition to my sister, I have received help from friends and colleagues with whom I’ve maintained a close friendship since I was a teenager and youth; and also from Masons living in Florida.

On the literary side, my brother for life and colleague, as well as legal representative as a literary agent, Amir Valle, has collected my copyright earnings and prizes, and gotten them to me in Cuba in various ways. In fact, in Miami it was proposed that in a literary presentation space, my books could be sold, and my sister, in a dignified act, with the greatest friendship, refused to receive the money and, in addition, asked that, without any disrespect, that they not do so, precisely to avoid the Cuban political police accusing me of being a mercenary or maintained by funding from people in Miami. She, from her poverty, will continue with my support.

I have never received money from the American government, nor from any Cuban-American foundation. When someone on Facebook offers to help me economically, with delicacy and thanks, I ask them to send photos of their family at a happy minute, or some book. I never accept money.

I am not a mercenary. On the contrary. I scorned the opportunities the Cuban government offers to the intellectuals and artists if they support the government, and if not, that they at least keep quiet and pretend to be allies.

I preferred, as my sister also says, “to give up being a prince to be a beggar,” and although I never traveled on the Cuban government’s money, I did travel on the invitation of universities book fairs and literary events, saw Europe and a great part of America, including, on more than one occasion, the United States.

I greatly preferred to abandon this life to dedicate myself to the freedom of my country, whatever sacrifice is necessary. And for that, I have been beaten, jailed, intellectually marginalized, humiliated by the cultural authorities, and still it doesn’t seem to me the minimum quota of what it’s worth to be able to freely say what I think in my time and my space.

So much so that I write with shame, because I always compare myself with the great Cubans who gave their lives and their youth to free the nation and, ultimately, to offer a better opportunity to their compatriots.

So I said to the political functionaries who dealt with me, and for this I also wanted to share it with my friends and readers because, above all, I am interested in being transparent like the wind.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Coastguard Prison Unit. Havana. October 2014.

15 October 2014

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Solidarity with Miguel Ginarte / Angel Santiesteban

Yesterday (Friday) afternoon, the president of the Diez de Octubre Court declared conclusive the trial against Miguel Ginarte and five other defendants. Just a year ago, Ángel Santiesteban-Prats wrote this post in solidarity with Miguel.

The Editor

My mother always warned me that the Cuban government proceeds through their actions: “When they no longer need you, the squash you like a cockroach”.

In the cultural media, it is well-known that there are very few shows on Cuban TV that do not use Miguel Ginarte to produce their programmes; in fact, very few are those who in the end who are not grateful for his disinterested help, his constant effort, because he takes the care with each show as if it were the final project that he would ever collaborate on. A man who people rarely hear say no, and when he has had to say no it is because it really was beyond his reach to help.

But that ranch not only provides work for the The Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), but also for the Ministry of Culture, who closed events at that location, like a peasant with a pig being roasted under the stars. I was able to participate in some of these closures before opening my blog, of course, and there we could also see the make up of the diet of then Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, now adviser to President Raul Castro: Fish and wine.

At that time, Ginarte wasn’t selling or diverting resources, as he is now being accused of. The television directors, when they wanted their guests to be treated decently, approached Papa Ginarte: who never turned his back, and after giving the respective indications, persevered to make sure that the requests were met.

As the actor Alberto Pujol said in his letter, there was no luxury to be found there; on the contrary, everything was very modest, to the point that it looked like somewhere one would film a mambises* cabin in the foothills of a mountain. Ostentation never interested Ginarte, only the quality of his work, because as every good Cuban peasant knows “A bull is tied by his horns, and a man by his words”.

As always on the island, behind this web of lies against Ginarte, there must be an official in love with the place, to at a whim do away with the work accomplished by the sweat of another; perhaps someone who resents Ginarte because at some time he should have said no, as only he knows how to do with bureaucrats. But it should come as no surprise to anyone: everyone’s time will come, regardless if they are excellent professionals, altruists, creators, honest, revolutionary people; they need only to be inadequate for the plans of those in power to be literally swept under the carpet.

I remember him with his jovial smile of a macho peasant who enjoyed very few days before entering prison. I would like to be able to say to him “the master should be ashamed, Papa Ginarte”, and remember him on his horse, back in the seventies, going to see Luyanó with his daughter Dinae and, patiently, lifting us up one by one to give us each our turn on his beautiful auburn steed.

At any rate, despite the pain that the injustice committed against Ginarte has caused us, there is something that makes it worth it, and that is his friends and admirers who have joined him by tooth and nail. I am sure that, as always, those who are ashamed will sign the petition, as they have done for decades. Others will want to do it but their lack of courage, or their commitments or perks, won’t let them; they think that it is not their problem, for now. But when someone does it from their heart, then that is already more than sufficient.

Ángel Santestiban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. October 2013

*Translator’s notes: Mambises is a term used to refer to independent guerillas who, during the 19th Century in Cuba and the Philippines, fought in the wars of independence. 

Translated by Shane J. Cassidy

25 October 2014

Angel Santiesteban Prats: 20 Months of Unjust Imprisonment

Today, 28 October 2014, Angel Santiesteban Prats marks twenty months of unjust incarceration, waiting for the Review of this show trial which condemned him without any proof because he is INNOCENT. His son, being a child and used to testify against his father, has now completely dismantled the farce plotted against Angel and yet they still keep him in prison. His only crime: opposing the dictatorship that has plagued Cuba for more than half a century.

28 October 2014

Blatant Lies / Angel Santiesteban

During the days in which Ángel Santiesteban-Prats’ whereabouts were unknown, and with fears absolutely based on the illegal transfers that he experienced before, we filed a complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances, so they would put it before the Regime in Havana to clarify his whereabouts.

Translation of letter from the High Commissioner’s Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commission:

Dear Mrs. Tabakman,

I have the honor of addressing you in the name of the Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances with respect to the case of Mr. Ángel Lazaro Santiesteban Prats (case no. 10005155).

In this respect I would like to inform you that the communication sent to the Government of Cuba on July 30, 2014, due to an administrative error, did not include the phrase “Marti TV (Miami, United States)” in place of “Cuban communication media.”

Furthermore, I want you to know that this correction of the case does not affect the decision taken by the Working Group during its 104th session, such as was communicated to you in its letter of September 30, 2014.

I would like to inform you that the Working Group will celebrate its 105th session between March 2-6, 2015, in the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sincerely yours,

Ariel Dulitzky, President-Presenter

They acted with the dedication and speed that an emergency requires, and, of course, the Castro dictatorship did not. They only responded to the Group’s requirement when it gave them the demand; that is, when Ángel already had been located by journalists from 14Ymedio. Thanks to them we knew where he was, although they couldn’t meet with him. The Regime had put him in the border military prison where he presently is.

I want to point out not only the fact that the Regime responded to the presenter for the Working Group, but they also took advantage of the occasion to lie blatantly and use against the “source” complainant the same strategies they use to falsely accuse and imprison the opposition. All thieves believe that others are like them.

Translation of document from Cuban government:

On the other hand, the facts transcribed are not reliable. They don’t come from pertinent and credible sources that act in good faith, in accord with the principles of cooperation in the matter of human rights and without political motivation, contrary to what is set forth in the United Nations Charter. They are supported by unfounded accusations that are only intended to tarnish the reality of Cuba’s record in the promotion and protection of all human rights for everyone.

They exploited an involuntary omission in the group’s communication to the Cuban government to try to disqualify the complaint and the complainants. Now they have just communicated and corrected the omission – again – in order to continue supporting their lies, but they will preserve the same pathetic silence that they have with respect to the whole case.

I am transcribing here the response from the Regime (the complete document is attached in a link in this post):

Session: 104

Government Item

Date: September 4, 2014

The Government of Cuba reported that:

“The allegations about a supposed transfer of the citizen Ángel Lázaro Santiesteban Prats,

from the place where he was fulfilling a punishment of deprivation of liberty to a ’military base.’

“After investigation, it was demonstrated that:

“1. At 7:00 a.m. on July 21, 2014, Santiesteban Prats tried to escape from the center where he was held as a prisoner (with open living). Immediately complaint 38563/14 was filed in the station of the National Revolutionary Police of Municipio Diez de Octubre, for the crime of Escape of Prisoners or Detainees.

“2. At 1:05 a.m. on July 27, 2014, Santiesteban Prats was detained and transferred to the Territorial Department of Criminal Investigation and Operations, where he remains. He enjoys good health and receives all the benefits established in the Cuban penitentiary system.

“3. Santiesteban Prats himself admitted that he fled from the detention center with the goal of leaving the country in an irregular and covert manner, with support from the exterior, and to thereby avoid having to continue serving his sentence.

“On the other hand, the facts transcribed are not reliable. They don’t come from pertinent and credible sources that act in good faith, in accord with the principles of cooperation in the matter of human rights and without political motivation, contrary to what is set forth in the United Nations Charter. They are supported by unfounded accusations that are only intended to tarnish the reality of Cuba’s record in the promotion and protection of all human rights for everyone.

“In that sense, it is false that his presumed disappearance was related to ’declarations of a person associated with him in Cuban communication media in the days previous to July 20, 2014.’

“Nor for his activities as a writer and blogger was Santiesteban Prats sentenced to five years in prison for having committed common crimes, as regulated in the present Cuban Penal Code.

“He was accused by his wife, Kenla Liley Rodriguez Guzmán, in August 2009, of the crimes of Harm, Home Invasion, Injuries, Threats, Rape, and Robbery with Force. After investigation, the Prosecutor presented the case before the Provincial Court of Havana for the crimes of Injuries and Home Invasion.

“From that time they knew of his intentions to flee the country in an irregular and covert manner, incited by his sister who lives in the exterior, to evade his sentence. He finally tried, unsuccessfully, in July of this year, as already has been explained.”

Ángel Santiesteban, without even knowing of the existence of the complaint or this document, has already given an answer to that nonsense in the message that was sent explaining what motivated him to leave the Lawton prison settlement and saying that he would give himself up several days later. The only certainty in everything the dictatorship alleges is that he recognized that he abandoned the prison voluntarily, taking advantage of the movement of the prisoners who left for work in the morning.

The first lie, which falls of its own weight, is that “he receives all the benefits established in the Cuban penitentiary system.” Exactly because he DOESN’T receive them is the reason he left on his own to recover them (the 15 days of pass that corresponded to the last 10 months, which they arbitrarily denied him). He wasn’t “detained” on July 27 like they allege. He gave himself up, telling the official who received him that they still owed him 10 days of pass.

“On the other hand, the facts transcribed are not reliable. They don’t come from pertinent and credible sources that act in good faith, in accord with the principles of cooperation in the matter of human rights and without political motivation, contrary to what is set forth in the United Nations Charter. They are supported by unfounded accusations that are only intended to tarnish the reality of Cuba’s record in the promotion and protection of all human rights for everyone.”

Such a declaration merits nothing more than remembering that we are facing a dictatorship where neither law nor justice exists, in which they only administer rewards and punishments according to whether one is obsequious or opposed. The cynicism of those who work for the Regime is such that they have the nerve to mention the United Nations Charter and human rights. Does Mr. Dictator finally want to ratify the pacts of the U.N.? The biggest violator of all human rights on the continent makes believe that the complaint “continues tarnishing reality and the executive of Cuba in the promotion and protection of all human rights for everyone.” Ask him about all the executions, assassinations, tortures, imprisonments, and those who have been banished and forced into exile who have endured the said promotion and protection for 55 years.

Then they relied on the before-mentioned omission to lie again: “(…) It’s false that his presumed disappearance was related to ’declarations of a person associated with him in the Cuban communication media in the days previous to July 20, 2014.’ Now it’s already been explained to them that it was a matter of an omission, clarifying that it referred to the declaration of Angel’s son in a television program from Miami. How do they explain that they had prepared a transfer for Angel and that he complained only five days after his son said on Television Marti how he had been manipulated by his mother and the political police to lie and prejudice the case against his father? Wasn’t there a relationship with the said complaints? Are they trying to delegitimize the rumor that he denounced his imminent transfer on July 20 when on August 13 they incarcerated him where he said they would? The Regime knows perfectly well that there was an involuntary omission in the report, and they knew that it referred to the declarations of Angel’s son on Television Marti, who said that the political police were permanently spying on him, so that the Human Rights Commission granted cautionary measures for him also.

Ángel Santiesteban is the only “common” prisoner to whom the dictatorship has offered – on numerous occasions since he was incarcerated – freedom and banishment in exchange for renouncing his political position, documenting it in a video. Every time he has refused outright and denounced this in his blog. Even so, they continue stubbornly trying to convince him. So that “From this time they knew about his intentions to abandon the country in an irregular and covert manner (…)” is no more than another cock-and-bull story like the ones they habitually resort to in order to justify the unjustifiable: the lack of freedoms, guarantees, and protections for the citizen victims of the island prison.

Ángel never asked that they free him; he only requested a review of the trial with ALL the guarantees of due process that they denied him when they took him to prison. If they would proceed to carry out the review, he would be absolved, because the accusations aretotally false. That’s the reason they delay the review with the stupidest excuses, because they only pretend to penalize him by keeping him locked up: “Nor for his activities as a writer and blogger was Santiesteban Prats sentenced to five years in prison for having committed common crimes, as regulated in the present Cuban Penal Code.”

The accuser is named Kenia Diley Rodríguez Guzmán; only by reading how they refer to her in the response do we have proof of the “care” they put into fabricating causes of action, the accusations and the accusers. It doesn’t ever matter to them who has lied; the only thing that matters is that their lies serve the interests of the dictatorship: “He was accused by his wife, Kenla Liley Rodriguez Guzmánin August 2009, for the crimes of Harm, Home Invasion, Injuries, Threats, Rape, and Robbery with Force. After investigation, the Prosecutor presented the case before the Provincial Court of Havana for the crimes of Injuries and Home Invasion.”

I remember again that as there wasn’t any proof that would incriminate him, they condemned him after a report from a lieutenant, a handwriting expert, who alleged that “from the size and inclination of his handwriting, he’s guilty.”

In the end, there is little to add that is not already known.

The Editor

Translated by Regina Anavy

20 October 2014

The New Robin Hoods (II) / Angel Santiesteban

Granting the wish of Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, who remains unjustly imprisoned, that his voice is not silenced, and while I await for him to find a way to send me his posts, I will be publishing, starting today, the ones he sent me in the past, as to keep his voice alive in these isolating times that prevent him from publishing in his own blog.

The post I share today was written in May, in the Lawton Prison.

 The Editor

—————————————————————————————

The New Robin Hoods (II)

Last night, after we were locked in our barracks, we heard screams and remained alert. Shortly after, we saw the prison guards running around and calling for the military-on-guard. They had caught a thief who had entered one of the storage rooms that hold construction materials. When he was brought close to a light, we were even more surprised: we soon recognized him as the other military officer who guards the prisoners. He’s not more than twenty years-old.

While being taken, he kept explaining he needed to fix his house, as he was getting married. For this, he would need to divide the space so he could be independent from the rest of the family and start his married life.

We can imagine it was humiliating to him for the prisoners to see him detained and then see him being pushed into the patrol car that would carry him to the police station. One of the inmates joked: “The birds shooting the rifles.”

One more young man who will be added to the thousands waiting in Cuban prisons.

I’m sorry for those who do not understand this, but in the prison cell where they lock in people who rob, not for luxuries, but for necessity, I would instead lock in the politicians, whom I blame for cutting those young lives short and ignoring their most objective needs.

Ironically, it is a sort of luck and a relief for their families to see them in prison, as at least they know they will be alive and they know they can wait for them to return, as opposed to the families of those hopeless ones who venture into the sea risking their life and, in many cases, losing it in the attempt.

Those who live or have lived in Cuba know that the salary here is not enough to live on, not even in the case of the most lauded or brilliant professional.

Inmates assure us that the real ambition of the guard, now locked inside some dark and fetid cell, was—after becoming independent of his family—to buy himself a bicycle.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison. May, 2014.

Ask Amnesty International to declare Cuban dissident Ángel Santiesteban a Prisoner of Conscience

Translated by: T

15 September 2014

Changes in Cuba / Angel Santiesteban

29 September 2014