Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Order To Kill a Serial Killer / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Prison Border Unit, Havana, 13 April 2015 –– I declare myself the enemy of any act that generates violence, above all those where lives are snuffed out. In the recently concluded Summit of the Americas in Panama, the gang sent by Cuba to violently destabilize the forums that they could not once again manipulate, inflicted beatings.

One of the justifications was the presence of Felix Rodriguez, who was in charge of the capture of Ernesto Guevara (as the Cuban writer Felix Luis Viera says: I say his name and not his nickname because he was not your friend, let alone mine), and who also gave the order to execute the guerrilla commander, who like the phrase “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword,” received the same formula that he sometimes used, as when he arrived at La Cabaña in 1959, where he caused rivers of blood to flow in the trenches of that fortress, built during colonial times to protect from the attacks of privateers and pirates, without giving the condemned the opportunity to receive a defense by lawyers representing them in a fair trial.

It is also true (without intending to defend anyone, because one life is worth as much as thousands), that in ten lifetimes Felix Rodriguez could not match the number of dead that the Argentine commander dispatched by the firing squad.

Every time I see a person wearing the guerrilla’s image, I wonder if they are naive or if they know the rap sheet of cold-blooded murders that he authorized and committed, as recounted in the book by commander Benigno.

The official delegation of the Castro regime shamelessly displayed the flag, making it a shame for all Cubans.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

April 13, 2015, Border Prison Unit, Havana

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Reporters Without Borders to Hollande: “Mr. President, France should seek the immediate and unconditional release of Yoennis de Jesús Guerra García, Juan Antonio Torres, and Ángel Santiesteban-Prats.”

Note: This post was written by the editor of Angel’s blog.

Once again, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demonstrates its commitment to the serious situation in Cuba and writes an open letter to French President Francois Hollande.

On the occasion of the upcoming visit of Hollande to Cuba, they asked him to live up to the pledge he made in 2003 in a column in Le Nouvel Observateur, “Tell the Truth”, and asked him:

“Mr. President, France should seek the immediate and unconditional release of Yoennis de Jesús Guerra García, Juan Antonio Torres, and Ángel Santiesteban-Prats. France can do no less than urge the Cuban authorities to stop the repression and censorship of purveyors of independent information.”

Thank you from here on behalf of Angel Santiesteban-Prats for the relentless support provided by RSF for all those in Cuba who suffer the consequences of exercising the right to freedom of expression and information inside a dictatorship.

Eternal gratitude,

The Editor of Angel’s blog

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Cuba: “The silence of the friends of Cuba would be a form of complicity.” (Francois Hollande, 2003)

Published Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Monday, May 11, 2015, French President Francois Hollande will be the first French head of state to visit Cuba since 1959, and the first Western leader to do so since the announcement of the resumption of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, announced last December 17. A historic visit, and a historic responsibility: to “tell the truth,” as in the title of the column about Cuba written by François Hollande (attached here) published in Le Nouvel Observateur in 2003. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sent an open letter to the President requesting him to urge his counterpart Raul Castro to improve the situation—which is dire—of the freedom of information on the island.

François Hollande
President of the Republic
Elysée Palace
55 Rue du Faubourg Saint‐Honoré
75008 París

May 7, 2015

Mr. President,

Before you make your trip to Cuba, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an organization that defends freedom of information, would like to call your attention to the situation—which remains very critical—of professional and amateur journalists in Cuba. This country, which every year ranks last in the Americas in the 2015 Worldwide Classification of Freedom of the Press by Reporters Without Borders, ranked 169th out of 180 countries. This position reflects the apparent lack of pluralism and the difficult and dangerous situation in which journalists and independent bloggers operate in order to evade censorship and to publish independent information.

With a historic visit comes a historic responsibility: in the column you wrote and which was published in Le Nouvel Observateur on February 27, 2003, entitled “Telling the Truth,” you stated bluntly: “Silence by the friends of Cuba would be a form of complicity facing a system that we condemn elsewhere,” and you urged “supporting the Cuban people to the end and telling the truth about the inhumanity, both of the embargo and of the Cuban regime. Both are unjustifiable.”

You had no doubt about the role of France: “We demand the release of all political prisoners and the abolition of censorship.” In the name of these principles, France cannot remain silent.

Mr. President, despite the desire for openness that the Cuban government now displays in the diplomatic arena, it retains an almost complete monopoly on information and does not tolerate the existence of any independent media on the island. The traditional press and online media remain censored; the internet remains under close surveillance.

An exception to this lead cloak: the website of the independent news agency Hablemos Press. Since 2011 Hablemos Press was inaccessible on the island, but last March 12th, as part of an anti-cybercensorship operation, Reporters Without Borders unlocked its website. The Cuban government did nothing, an exception that should be the rule. Mr. President, France cannot forget that an opening can only be real and beneficial to the population if the island is also open to plural and independent information.

Independent journalists and bloggers continue to exercise their profession in the midst of a difficult and dangerous situation: their computers are confiscated and their mobile phones are disconnected; they are cited by the State Security Department and ordered to change their editorial slant. Also, they continue to suffer intimidation, smear campaigns, death threats, assaults, arrests and arbitrary detentions.

Even the World Day of Press Freedom on May 3rd served as a pretext for repression. Three independent journalists covering the march of the Ladies in White were arrested in Havana. They had distributed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr. President, France cannot continue to be silent about the arbitrary imprisonment of journalists.

Cuban authorities seem to increasingly prefer arbitrary detentions of short duration to prevent purveyors of information from doing their jobs and to keep them quiet. Yoeni de Jesús Guerra García (a blogger from Yayabo Press sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014), Jose Antonio Torres (a journalist from the official newspaper Granma, who was sentenced in July 2012 to 14 years in prison) and the blogger Ángel Santiesteban-Prats (author of the informative blog The Children Nobody Wanted, sentenced to five years in prison in 2013), are all currently serving long prison sentences.

Their crimes? Having spread information considered “anti-revolutionary” or “slanderous.” Ángel Santiesteban-Prats was sentenced to five years in prison for “domestic violence with injuries;” he was charged with a common criminal offense to reduce the political impact of his imprisonment. Since entering prison he has suffered ill-treatment and torture. A lack of legal clarity clouds his situation. Mr. President, France should seek the immediate and unconditional release of Yoennis de Jesús Guerra García, Juan Antonio Torres, and Ángel Santiesteban-Prats.

France can do no less than urge the Cuban authorities to stop the repression and censorship of purveyors of independent information. France should also intervene with the Cuban authorities and ask them to allow access to Cuba by international organizations defending human rights and freedom of expression and information, such as Reporters Without Borders. This, keeping in mind your desired objective: “to tell the truth.”

Thanking you for your attention to this request, Mr. President, I send my warmest greetings.

Sincerely,

Christophe Deloire

Secretary General

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Published in Reporters without Borders

State Sponsors of Forgetfulness / Angel Santiesteban

The pernicious, failed, and pathetic ideologues of the Cuban totalitarian regime want you to believe that they should never have been on the “list of state sponsors of terrorism.” Never mind that it’s true, or that there is evidence that proves their constant support, military provisioning and training to all the guerrillas created in the Americas.

In particular, Cuba was added to the list for the help it offered the guerrillas of El Salvador, which, moreover, it did not hide, and which it then called “internationalism.”

The Castros have that characteristic of never being wrong, nor of ever declaring any political or economic action a failure. In more than a half century of dictatorship—and a depressing and chaotic political administration—they have never on any occasion recognized that they were wrong, and as the Silvio Rodriguez song says (which party officials treat as an anthem) “I die as I lived,” so the Castros also do not now recognize that at the time, according to the American criteria for including these countries, Cuba met all the requirements.

But what is important for the Castros is maintaining the image of victims, like the “kitten of Maria Ramos*,” and officially declare that they should never have been on that list, and therefore should not be grateful for this gesture from Obama, and will constantly “bite the hand.”

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

April 14, 2015, Border Prison Unit, Havana.

*Translator’s note: Based on the story of a prostitute, Maria Ramos, who on being charged with the murder of her pimp, claimed it was her kitten, not her, who had thrown the stone that killed him. (She didn’t get away with it.)

When the victim’s time comes / Angel Santiesteban

Harold Cepero and Oswaldo Paya

Laura Pollan

 

God forbid that another death is necessary in order to understand the abusive attitude of the Cuban government against dissidents. I learned by telephone that last Sunday the government authorized the political police to use teams of athletes—judokas and boxers, among others—in combat mode, in another desperate attempt to stop these ladies (the Ladies in White), who only peacefully ask for the release to their families of prisoners and other political opponents who are serving time for thinking differently.

Since I became aware of the physical assaults and the corresponding arrests, an idea has remained fixed in my mind: “We have to expect this to happen in order for the international political community to understand that you cannot negotiate with totalitarian governments, that it is a dead end. That they only appear to adapt to the new times out of their economic desperation, as ‘parasite countries’ that suck what they can out of whatever economy they get near.”

Is an agreement with the United States and the European Union above the objective needs that civil society urges be resolved? By negotiating with the regime, these countries are establishing a dynasty that will last for generations. The shameful truth is that, Sunday after Sunday, the Ladies in White are abused. Now more so, as I learned during my recent call, because those criminal mobs inflicted bone fractures on these helpless women, who have not given up, nor will they give up on their desire for freedom. Even if the above statements fall on ears deafened and eyes clouded by the absurdities with which the Castro brothers enchant them, and make them dance to their tune.

I still hope that the governments involved in the openings understand that they are losing their valuable time, and retracing their steps, only to approach that truth which I have not doubted for a moment: the dictatorship will not submit to a truce in order to change this sad reality that has oppressed us for over half a century.

And I continue to declare that the more the dictatorship strengthens and sends out roots, the more suffering the Cuban people will continue to endure, as the powers reach a deal.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
April 23, 2015, Border Prison Unit, Havana.

Evo Morales, The Dissident Who Was Abused / Angel Santiesteban

evo-morales-en-los-primeros-tiemposAngel Santiesteban, 12 May 2015 — At the Summit of the Americas, the Bolivian president told journalists about the arrests, humiliations and violations of human rights he suffered when he opposed the officialdom of his country, from the beginning of his union movement activism back in 1988.

So it’s outrageous that this same human being, statesman and politician, who tells of the suffering inflicted upon him by the extremist regimes of his time, is today the one who defends the dictatorship of the Castro brothers, which commits the same human rights violations against the Cuban opposition. It might be assumed that he would show solidarity with the abused of today. But, like they say, “with fame comes memory loss.”

Although perhaps it’s not forgetfulness so much as the price he pays, because in reality he was chosen by Fidel Castro for his country’s presidency, and provided with economic and strategic support, personal protection and intelligence.

Fidel did the same with the others who today make up that Latin American mafia of “leftist” presidents: Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Lula da Silva; or even Ollanta Humala in Peru, who has had to pay for the favor quietly, because in his country it has been impossible to imitate Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Nor is it possible to deny that, since his rise to power, Morales has achieved a better situation for the lower classes, developed the economy and created better opportunities and conditions in general for his people, while the most notable is having restored the rights of indigenous citizens, forgotten and out of favor for centuries.

So far, President Morales would have made history as the best chief of the national tribe, and I write this with respect. But that commitment to work for the development of the country still isn’t enough for Evo Morales, nor is it for those other leftist leaders on the continent, those that I call “mafia,” in which I include Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and, to a lesser extent, because of their more independent paths from the dictates of Cuba, Uruguay and some small Caribbean islands.

Continuing in the fashion of popular dictators, Morales manipulated the law to gain indefinite re-election and eternalize his power. In doing so, he betrayed himself, but he did the greatest damage to his nation, sticking a dagger in the back of democracy, since it ensures for him, and for those who can replace him when he decides to leave power, the opportunity to maintain a dictatorship with support from the Parliament.            

Evo Morales, who had the responsibility of ensuring those democratic terms, violated the meaning of his own name — morals — by defiling and hijacking democracy. But, as luck would have it, a light is possibly dawning in the person of Soledad Chapetón Tancara, a young Aymaran woman and educator, who has become mayor of El Alto, Bolivia’s second most important city.

To play at being a dictator is a slow process of degradation, as one falls into the abyss and tries to grab onto some branches. But in the end it is still a fall. When surveys and advisers suggested to Evo Morales the possibility that the Bolivian Socialist Movement (MAS) might lose some of the country’s most important towns, he threatened to “withdraw financial support” from those municipalities. And that was just the beginning of his descent.

It’s undeniable that he opened doors for himself and others with absolutist intentions, and therein lies the danger: he committed the stupidity of letting go of a child’s hand in the roadGenerally, this stupidity ends with a lot of suffering and blood. Morales’ mistake will erase whatever was best of the noblest and altruistic actions he took in his mandate as the first president in favor of his people, who have already begun to withdraw their confidence. It shows, once again, that overcoming a decade in power entails a wear and tear of image, which usually ends, inevitably, in the general ill will of one’s own citizens.         

Losing the municipality of El Alto is the first notice. Now it’s the turn of the mayor, Soledad Chapeton Tancara, who shows she knows what she wants and where she wants to lead her people, who are grateful to her.

Evo Morales is trying to show that what occurred isn’t very important and that everything is going well. Hopefully he will rise above his partisan pains and cooperate with the young Aymara, who asks for “less ideology and more transparency” and offers new proposals for the development of her nation.

Let’s remember that the vote against Morales was partly due to corruption of the authorities in those municipalities, resulting from the lack of control of the president in his obstinate commitment to manufacture a war against the United States.

Soledad Chapeton will remain as mayor of El Alto until 2021, and later, according to how her management goes, will be a possible candidate for the National Unity party together with its leader, the businessman Samuel Doria Medina, who will have the challenge of healing that wound in the Constitution of his own country, a wound which leaves open a clear path for autocrats to install themselves and put forth their ideologies as cloaks for their appetites and personal ambitions. Of course, before healing the wound the knife needs to be removed.     

When Evo Morales finished recounting his stories of abuse in one of the arranged rooms during the Panama Summit, the journalists started questioning him, showing impatience, since in those few words the Bolivian president had never touched on those delicate subjects that bother him so much.

He found himself in front of a group of professionals, among whom were some of those he himself censured in the official spaces, where those who are invited and the questions they can ask are chosen.

When a journalist asked him how it was possible that, with his experience as a victim of abuse from political leaders, he could support Castro’s totalitarian regime, which committed the same outrageous acts that other governments committed against him, Morales threw himself onto a heap of trash, spewing garbage, and tried, shamefully imitating Cantinflas*, to justify himself by saying that when someone badmouths the Cuban people he takes it as a personal attack.

But here’s a curious observation: in Raul Castro’s appearance at the Summit (those twelve minutes that multiplied, since it’s impossible not to violate the time limit rule), he didn’t refer to the most publicized demand of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s exit to the sea, in spite of mentioning other important demands of that mafioso group of acolytes: the condemnation of Obama’s decree against Venezuela, Argentina’s right to the Malvinas, putting the brake on the transnationals who “contaminate” the soil of Ecuador, the “decolonization” of Puerto Rico, poverty in Haiti, peace in Colombia. But Evo Morales’ demand wasn’t mentioned, perhaps so Bachelet wouldn’t be annoyed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some juicy agreement is signed in Chile for financial aid to Cuba.

Morales was obviously nervous when they asked him the question. He looked at the journalist like a weirdo, surely wanting to throw the microphone at him rather than answer; and, searching perhaps for a way out, it occurred to Morales to ask him if he were a journalist, perhaps in case he wasn’t, to negate his words. But his interlocutor said “yes”, leaving the president no other decent option than to respond, or at least to try to, as he finally did.

The leader knew before starting that he was plunging into the ridiculous and he extracted forced words, produced ready-made phrases and readings, learned in the best moment of the educative rigor that Cuba offered to that mafioso alliance, conscious of the quota of impudence assimilated by obligation as part of being affiliated with the mafia of “leftist” Latin America.

A dangerous double-edged knife, that this time injured its carrier, removing him, if some time he was close, from that vociferous leftist longing to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, when in reality every one of his steps showed that he was preparing for a war and, even worse, for a war against his own people and his Aymara brothers.

The Bolivian sovereign, while trying to guarantee that the garbage wouldn’t smother him, cited the words of Fidel Castro: “We have to share what we have, not that which is left over.” But Castro didn’t talk about the price that the Cuban people have paid for decades, for more than a half century, for his narcissistic obsession of reaching a preponderant level on an international scale.

It didn’t matter to Castro that he has made his people sacrifice and suffer, crushing generations of Cubans, one after the other, and worse, converting them into lost generations socially, like throwing away offerings in empty sacks, discarding victims; finally, considering them dispensable human beings, those whom he always saw as mere numbers.

What Fidel Castro lacked was the spirit of a benefactor, and the facts prove it. Or perhaps you can call someone a benefactor who collects hundreds of millions from Venezuela in petroleum, in exchange for the Cuban collaborators placed in that country, which has almost been taken over by Cuba?

Does a benefactor charge Brazil an undreamt amount of money for the doctors it rents to them, paying them a poor salary and pocketing the major part of what it pays for every doctor sent to the Carioca nation? This only mentions two countries of those where this slavery business of the 21st century imposed by Fidel Castro proliferates. It’s known that professionals who refuse to go can forget about receiving income in their specialty or material rewards for their work. The impoverished economic situation confronting their families obligates them to accept.

Perhaps one day there will be a study on the marital cost of this separation, this distance between couples, the lack of protection for family and children who remain. Divorces from that physical separation on average are very high. What make this more deplorable and shameful is that in the end those “internationalists” receive a tiny part of the payment that the government charges, a miserable payment that evaporates over months, because some decide to loan themselves again to slavery and so perform two or more collaborations in other countries.

I knew someone who spent six years in Venezuela, while they kept his wife, two kids and old parents in Cuba. And he did that, planned it, to resolve the family calamities and be able to celebrate his daughter’s “quince**” with a little decorum.

Evo Morales knows, but perhaps doesn’t want to see out of pure convenience, that all the foreign graduates in Cuba, thousands, today professionals in their countries, are converted in the great majority into agents, ideological stone-masons, silent allies of the Cuban government, who in many cases have ascended to important posts in their governments, with all the intention of influencing these nations, once the era of guerrillas has passed. Solidarity, it’s not.

Castro thought out very well his plans for global power. He gave the stairways to power to Chavez, Maduro, Lula da Silva, Evo Morales, among others, but on credit, and charging them means destroying that staircase, snatching away from them that initial impulse and launching them into the worst of the history of their countries.

In summary, Evo Morales, more than being a satellite, like the one recently launched into space, needs a shaman to enlighten him and show him the reality of today and the future, and one who, moreover, will make him think about the question of office that the journalist at the Panama Summit asked him: “And you, Evo, are you the president?”

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
April 16, 2015 , Border Prison Unit, Havana.

Translator’s notes:
*Cantinflas was a Mexican comic actor who often portrayed impoverished peasants.
**The “Quince” is the tradition of celebrating a young girl’s coming of age on her 15th birthday.

Translated by: Nathan Clarke and Regina Anavy

Obama Dances with Wolves / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban-Prats, Unidad de Guardafronteras Prison, Havana, April 10, 2015 — President Obama is surrounded by Castros. In front he has the old wolf Raul, taking his turn as tyrant. To his left is Raul’s grandson and chief bodyguard. To his right, just behind Ban Ki Moon, is Raul’s son Alexander, wearing his faux-angelic expression, because he was suddenly promoted from colonel to brigadier general, and directs the black hand of State Security.

Raul Castro appears not to understand anything that Obama is saying. Alejandro displays a look of delight, of orgasm, of dreaming of reaching power with the approval of the Americans. When in a change of plans Obama shows up alone, the grandson clumsily shields his diminutive grandfather, and in his officiousness almost knocks Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to the floor.

I don’t think the Castros are off the hook, at least not for the time being, if before they didn’t arrange to put their house in order, to organize the truths and the lies, to present, in the matter of human rights, something that relates to the present day.

Eduardo Galeano’s Last Embrace / Angel Santiesteban

eduardo-galeano
Angel Santiesteban, Border Control Prison, Havana, 13 April 2015 — I met him at the beginning of the 90s. I was introduced to him after reading one of my stories and he liked it. He signed one of his books for me which I keep with devotion. In those years I accompanied him, along with his wife Helena, on some vacations in Veradero. They told me they wanted to talk, listen to ordinary Cubans, and they wanted to share with the people of Havana and Varadero. They talked with people as if they’d known them forever.

He had a sensibility that any artist would like to possess. I remember that cartoon where a boy watches a sculpture chiseling a rough stone. Later he starts to give it form and the silhouette of a horse emerges. And then the boy, surprised and curious, has the sculptor how he knew there was a horse inside the stone.

Eduardo Galeano, who was a victim of political persecution by another dictatorship, was not spared Cuban censorship. Fidel Castro and his cultural ideologues expunged some pages from his books and didn’t accept him. I am of the opinion that Galeano never forgave them.

When he broke with Cuba and made statements against the regime, they didn’t forgive him, and the distancing was maintained until his death. Since then Galeano avoided Cuba. The same thing happened with the “Sandinista Revolution” with which he had had strong ties of solidarity, and a deep friendship with the Commander Tomas Borges.

When the Piñata* happened, and the commanders shared out the riches of the country making themselves millionaires, including the current president Daniel Ortega, Galeano, who was a transparent and honest man decided to distance himself. But only physically because recently he was one of the activists most engaged in the transoceanic canal in Nicaragua because of the ecological damage it would cause.

In one of the last interviews he gave, we watched on Telesur when the interviewer asked him, “What do you want for your country (Uruguay) once Tabaré Vázquez assumes the presidency of your country.” Galeano avoided answering, nor did he response to the next question about the politics of his country, from which I inferred he didn’t have a good relationship. Galeano reflected, or vice versa, the sensibility reflected in his books, in the actions of his life, regardless of flags or the corners of political militancy, keeping his transparency and his soul.

*Translator’s note: From Wikipedia: “In Ortega’s last days as president [in his previous term in 1990], through a series of legislative acts known as “The Piñata,” estates that had been seized by the Sandinista government (some valued at millions and even billions of US dollars) became the private property of various FSLN officials, including Ortega himself.”