Only One Question / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, Border Patrol Prison Unit, Havana. February, 2015 — I do not have access to the news online nor the articles by specialists and political scientists in the daily papers with respect to the recent dialogues between President Obama and the president of Cuba. And, as the days pass and we are ever farther from that 17 of December of last year — when their secret contacts and accords became known — there is a question that continues to grow in my mind, and it is: why did the initial list of prisoners to be exchanged not include those who have been jailed in Cuba for almost 30 years?

How is it possible that these prisoners were left out of that list of 53 Cuban political prisoners? I am not saying that they should have been substituted for any of those on the list, simply that they should have been included. And the more I ponder this, my puzzlement grows like a snowball.

It simply seems to me a sign of disrespect to play politics and forget those men, those brothers, those human beings who have been suffering in the worst of captivities for decades. Would that, in a second “round,” as always happens in these political maneuverings, these men are taken into account. This I pray.

Remember that those imprisoned Cubans are serving sentences that are double those that were being completed by Castro’s spies.

Perhaps, as the song says, “they have it all figured out,” and in fact they were left for another future spy exchange — such as for Ana Belén Montes, their spy in the Pentagon — or to soften up the North American Congress so that they will lift the embargo.

I suspect that the script is already written: Obama and the Castros have a common enemy, which is the Republican Party. They are the ones who need to be convinced, because, were it up to the Democrats, they would already, in the blink of an eye, have set up a satellite of China or Russia in the Caribbean — which is what they’re doing, of course, the only difference being that it is official, made legal by the American government itself.

I already foresee that this hand will be bitten, and will catch rabies.

Border Patrol Prison Unit, Havana. February, 2015.

* Editor’s Note: There are 9 political prisoners who have been incarcerated more than 20 years. Their names (and years imprisoned so far) are: Pedro de la Caridad Álvarez (23), Daniel Candelario Santovenia (23), Elías Pérez (23), Erik Salmerón (23), Raúl Manuel Cornel (22), José David Herman (22), Miguel Díaz (21), Armando Sosa (21) and  Humberto Eladio Real Suárez (21). Fifteen other prisoners have been detained for periods between 12 and 19 years. (Source: Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) and see also Human Rights Watch Report based on CCDHRN reporting.)

 Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

6 March 2015

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