New Violations of Ángel Santiesteban’s Rights
Amir Valle and Elisa Tabakman, 28 June, 2015 — Today, June 28, 2015, Angel Santiesteban Prats should have been released on parole after having served exactly half of his unjust sentence. In fact, if they had not already violated his rights, he should have been free as of April 28, because as provided by law, for each year served in prison one month is credited against the total sentence.
When they violated his right to the two-month reduction, we denounced it here, and correctly explained that they did it to avoid granting him freedom. And we assumed, incorrectly, that they would release him on June 28; if they did not, it would be a public and obvious violation of their own laws.
On that occasion, we also reiterated the complaint about another blatant breach of the law: the silence they have maintained about his appeal for revision of judgment, filed on July 4, 2013, and approved in the final months of last year when, under pressure from international agencies, they had to stop postponing it.
But because the dictatorship does not act if it will not benefit, even though the appeal was approved, to date they have not undertaken the review. If the regime had any proof about the guilt of Angel Santiesteban, would they fear having to review the trial with all of the guarantees violated the first time?
Ángel was charged and convicted of a common crime for which they never provided a shred of evidence. They convicted him only on the basis of graphoanalysis—the height and angle of his handwriting. Ever since he entered prison he has been treated as a political prisoner.
They have subjected him to physical and psychological torture by officers of the political police, who constantly tried to intimidate him; they located violent prisoners next to him to provoke him; and they placed other inmates to spy on him in exchange for certain benefits. They have violated all of his prisoner rights (family passes, visits), they have threatened him . . . In short, he has had to suffer these and all the other atrocities that, as we well know, he and all political prisoners are victims of.
Three weeks ago, as we also reported, he was transferred twice to the barracks at Villa Marista in the span of four days. These “rides” as we learned later, had no purpose other than intimidating him and making him listen, ad nauseum, to threats from two Interior Ministry officers.
They told him: “Why should we free you if you’re going to meet some Sunday with the Ladies in White and then we’ll bring you right back to prison.” At this point, we believe that they prefer to save themselves a ride in a patrol car to take him back to prison.
Angel remains the only “common criminal” who, on repeated occasions, the political police officers have offered freedom in exchange for renouncing his political position, demanding that he give that renunciation in videotaped testimony.
He is also the only “common criminal” they have threatened to return to jail if he attended the marches of the Ladies in White. He is also the only “common criminal” that a known government official (while pointing a gun at his head) predicted would be sentenced to five years, one month before the Tribunal delivered the sentence.
Knowing these circumstances, and believing that all the facts clearly indicate that Angel is a political prisoner, we have received messages of concern and astonishment from hundreds of readers of this blog, who ask us one question:
If Ángel is one of the most internationally recognized Cuban prisoners, is one of the “100 Heroes of Communication” of the Reporters Without Borders, and is supported by intellectual institutions around the world, including parliamentarians from the European Union, why is it that the relevant organizations of the Cuban opposition, charged with making such allegations internationally, have never included him in their lists of political prisoners?
Many of these messages have been referred directly to the monthly reports on political prisoners sent from the island by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, headed by Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz-Pacheco.
Their concern is logical: although the circumstances of Ángel’s imprisonment are well known internationally, with across-the-board recognition that he was convicted for his political position, he is not included in those lists because the opposition’s lists rely on the version of Raul Castro’s dictatorship (which pretends to consider Ángel a common prisoner).
But at the same time this prevents Ángel from benefiting from any amnesty, as promoted in the talks between Cuba and the United States since December 17, 2014, and as already rumored may be possible before the visit of Pope Francis.
As we cannot give an answer, we hereby officially put that question to Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz-Pacheco and the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Literary representative of Ángel Santiesteban
Editor ofÁngel’s blog, The Children Nobody Wanted