Author Archives: Auto Post

The Pope, So as Not to Say Anything, Said Nothing / Angel Santiesteban

The Inverted Pyramid

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Havana, 17 September 2015 — It always irritates me that it is accepted, ironically, for the Cuban dictatorship to ply its totalitarian propaganda and be visible in foreign countries, via the media and its “solidarity”committees, when not even Cubans themselves in their own country are not allowed to claim freedom of thought, association, and all  the rights contained in the magna carta of the United Nations. Is it just that a country that violates these rights by denying them to its own citizens be allowed the spaces to cover up, manipulate, and lie to international public opinion?

A front-page article in Granma newspaper, the official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, reports “anti-blockade [embargo] tour begins in Washington,” which will include stops in other North American cities and various countries. It also announces a confirmed total of 44 visits to the Congress, 37 to congressional offices, and 7 visits to senators’ offices.

However, it is soon coming on six months since the Ladies in White, supported by members of the Forum for Rights and Liberties, as well as activists from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and other political groups who answer to the hashtag #todosmarchamos [“We all march”] have been subject every Sunday (22, to be exact), to brutal beatings and arrests. Just last Sunday it happened again, in the presence of members of the foreign press, who could see for themselves the peaceful way in which the opposition members carry out their demonstration–and in turn, the violent way they are treated, and the humiliation they suffer, upon being arrested.

The world seems to be turned on its head. President Barack Obama ignores the pleas of the dissidence clamoring for an end to the dictatorship’s violations of basic human rights. Pope Francis serves as mediator between the regime and the United States, and encourages the European Union to engage in and continue the steps taken by the United States, and so the first contacts and studies have begun to realize them in the near future.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Cuba’s top ecclesiastical representative, is more attached to the dictatorship than to his people, and so he publicly says that “in Cuba there are no political prisoners,” when he himself has met with some of them, and he has been given a list of who they are, and the details of the disgraceful legal proceedings to which they have been subjected.

To top it off, during a televised interview, he didn’t even have the decency to acknowledge the courageous Ladies in White and their current struggle–or for that matter, the abuses they suffer every weekend very near to his Santa Rita church–and he refers to them in past tense, without calling them by name, but merely as “those women who dressed in white.”

The Pope, just hours before his arrival in Havana, for the first time had the opportunity to address the Cuban people, but so as not to say anything, he said nothing. Those of us who awaited a message of salvation for a long suffering nation–one where his children launch themselves desperately on the sea without the least guarantee of survival, who need the encouragement of hope, the least glimmer of light to assure us that off in the distance an oasis awaits us–we were not granted it. He did not mention the families of this dispersed, and therefore divided, people, nor did he even speak of the pain that for more than half a century of dictatorship, we have suffered in our deepest flesh.

Hopefully once the Pope has visited our nation we may say with certainty that His Holiness visited with us, and not that he passed through this land like one more tourist.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Havana, 17 September, “free” on parole

 Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

The Lives Of Opposition Leaders Have Their Names On The Government’s Blacklist / Angel Santiesteban

José Alberto Botell, Guillermo Fariñas’ assailant

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015If the Cuban dictatorship has an enemy, it is themselves, as an institution of evil. After committing their outrages, the injustices and atrocities carried out by their henchmen who commit the atrocities they are ordered to commit — at any cost — in exchange for benefits awarded them by the governing officials who believe they are the owners of the nation. They cannot hide who they are.

The government has just exposed that there are two penal codes, one for dissidents, and another one for the acolytes who commit crimes on behalf of its totalitarian regime.

Recently they have “sentenced” José Alberto Botell, who was charged with the crime of “injuries,” after wounding five dissidents with a knife, one of them, Maria Arango Percibal, a member of the worthy Ladies in White.

Mary was in intensive care because of the severity of the injuries she received she when stood in front of the assailant to protect the leader of the United Antitotalitarian Front (FANTU), Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, for whom the attack was intended. The attacker also severely injured another glorious Lady in White, Isabel Fernandez Llanes, and three other regime opponents.

It is laughable that for such a criminal specimen, the prosecution would ask for a five-year sentence and the Criminal Court itself would reduce it by one year to leave it at four years maximum. Needless to say Botell was sent by the political police to get Fariñas out of the way because he openly opposes the negotiations between the United States and Cuba, unless the Castro brothers put an end to the systematic violations of human rights in advance.

If Fariñas had gone alone, or his companions had not reacted as they did, we would be grieving the loss of another opposition leader today. The type of violence shown by the attacker — who turned the scene into a carnage — even against women, shows that his intentions, meaning “orders,” were to assassinate Fariñas.

Had their plan gone well, we would now add another dead to our cause, just like they did with Laura Pollan, the leader of the Ladies in White, whose health condition deteriorated rapidly — strangely in and odd circumstances — in a hospital room commanded, supervised, ruled and surrounded by State Security agents.

Or as they did to Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, who died after an alleged “traffic accident”, in which there is evidence showing the hand of the political police behind it, as a result of which his family and one of his companions in the car raise their voices at international bodies to demand justice.

The lives of opposition leaders, especially those who oppose the Cuba-US negotiations, have their names on the government’s blacklist and, in advance, they have been labeled already: Berta Soler and the Ladies in White, Angel Moya, Guillermo Fariñas and Antonio Rodiles, are today the “targets under the sniper’s scope with a finger on the trigger”.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015

Border Patrol Prison, Havana, Cuba

Translated by: Rafael

The Dictatorship Doesn’t Stop: Angel Santiesteban Transferred to Villa Marista

Posted by the editor of Angel’s blog

For the second time in four days, Ánge Santiesteban-Prats has been moved in the morning to the sinister facilities known as Villa Marista, the central prison of State Security in Cuba. So far, his family members still have no information on the reasons for this and why he has not been returned to Guardafronteras Prison where, as has been demonstrated, he is serving five years in prison after a rigged trial by the political police.

Saturday June 6 he was also taken to Villa Marista and also for unknown reasons.

We fear that it is in retaliation for the recent publication of a post where Angel denounced, along with other sensitive issues, the slavery imposed on some prisoners in the Castro penitentiaries.

We remember that Angel should have been paroled on April 28, but they again violated his rights, stripping him of days he had been credited with for a year in order to keep him locked up.

We also recall that the dictatorship still does not know how to handle the appeal he filed of the July 4, 2013 trial.

Once again we hold Raul Castro responsible for the life and safety of Ángel Santiesteban.

The Editor

9 June 2015

Obama Tries to Put a New Collar on the Same Dog / Angel Santiesteban

“Act of Repudiation” (organized by the Cuban government) against Cuban activists at the Hotel Panama during the Summit of the Americas.


Angel Satiesteban,16 April 2015 — The biggest problem confronting the Castro brothers’ government is to accept the new challenges posed by the 21st century.

They thought they would arrive at the Summit in Panama and turn it into their show, but the times taught them the truth: the world, the venues, words, belong to everyone. So of course the entourage of sycophants that had been sent obeyed the order to retreat, left the forum, and hid, because really they had no defense in the face of the nonsense that characterizes the dictatorship. They can no longer fool the world, though they continue to practice extortion, and hire acolytes who, as a matter of survival, accept and pretend to support the totalitarian regime.

Many of those I saw on television participating in the carnival, the circus of the Communists outside Panama Hotel, I know very well and I still can listen to their words of rejection and fear of the system in Cuba. But such a fear does not allow them to tell the truth of their sad souls; many others are afraid to be ignored by the institutions controlled and manipulated by the government, knowing it is the only way to live as artists because their poor creations would not survive in the real world.

I managed  to see many of those who said they were not interested in politics and would not serve in the chorus in favor or against because it “wasn’t their way” — they used to repeat to me — and they were really far away from the first line of the confrontation.

If they accepted it is because I don’t know of any intellectuals or professionals who would refuse the chance to travel. Sometimes they don’t even ask about the destination, in order to travel outside the island they would accept to visit to hell. Even more so, when it comes to being a part of an official delegation, which receives an allowance before leaving for their daily expenses, plus the hotel and food. Something like this is not dismissed no matter how humiliating it could be, according to the cynicism with which it is accepted.

Of course, they will try to fashion a victory out of defeat, and will begin, like a soap opera, to fabricate the episodes.

Obama is trying to put a new collar on the same dog.

Angel Santiesteban -Prats

Border Guard Prison, Havana. April 2015

Video taken by Yoani Sanchez

 Translated by AnonyGY

Two Types of Dissidence, Two Policies / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 25 March 2015 — For the first time in the history of the violations against the Cuban dissidence by the political police of the totalitarian Regime, there are two lines of thought: one subdued and the other more severe.

Those in the opposition who have publicly supported the intention of the governments of the United States and Cuba to reconstruct diplomatic relations have had their rights respected to travel abroad, reunite, publish, etc.

But those who openly oppose the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, unless the Cuban Government respects human rights and frees the political prisoners, have been detained and had their passports take away, like the plastic artist Tania Bruguera, who was visiting the country, so that she now finds herself held hostage, and the activists Antonio Rodiles and Ailer Gonzales.

The Ladies in White, together with their leader, Berta Soler, and one of the 75 prisoners of the Black Spring, Angel Moya, Antonio Rodiles, Ailer Gonzalez, Claudio Fuentes and Tania Bruguera, among others, were captured, some for several days, and, coincidentally, have all opposed the reestablishment of relations.

It’s painful that this distance exists between both factions, which, when united, have suffered so much abuse from the dictatorship. Some who accept relations keep quiet about the abuses committed toward those who think differently.

In a certain way, they have to recognize that silence converts them into accomplices of the Regime. We can’t forget that in different ways, thinking from parallel paths, is precisely what transforms us in dissidence, because we came fleeing from belonging to that mob that accedes to the call of the Dictator, which sometimes, even in an indirect way, can manipulate us in its favor.

Although we think that others are wrong, we should defend their right to be so. There is no one dissidence that is bland and another that is extreme, only degrees that are necessary and that strive for the same thing.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Unidad de Guardafronteras Prison, Havana. March 2015.

Translated by Regina Anavy


Freedom? / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Border Control Prison, February 2015 — If I had any desire to be set free, it wouldn’t be with a great desire to accompany my children in their human, academic and social growth and to cooperate in this dream of liberation for my country.

When I think that I will have to return to that huge prison that is Cuba for Cubans who cannot express their opinions about the reality that surrounds them, or the artists who, through their art, bring another aesthetic that  doesn’t make the leaders happy, the emotion fades like that light they try to turn off, to hide.

I makes no sense to say that freedom is outside my imprisonment when I fell that I am more free than those who say they are free and speak softly to hide their thoughts, or prefer to lie to others with the intention of not being identified by the officials — somehow the police — persecutors of those who dare to be honest, although they silently envy them.

To be punished by a dictatorship is one of the best experiences I’ve received in my life and I am very proud of it.

Knowing that history will record me as against the tyranny that has ruled the archipelago for more than half a century, fills me with joy and is, in itself, the greatest payment for the suffering that I have received, for the punishment they deal like a decoration impossible to match.

Today, Wednesday, February 25, I called the headquarters of the Ladies in White and thanked them for their shouts of freedom for the political prisoners; their boundless courage, and for bearing up under the beatings and humiliations they receive, as one Sunday 22 February, when they were physically abused, humiliated and imprisoned, as well as Human Rights activists who support the Ladies in White, among others Ailer Gonzalez and Antonio Rodiles.

The government has to stop its constant violation of these rights, and accept that once the opposition is a tangible reality it is impossible to annul them no matter how many outrages are committed against them.

In addition, the countries who converse with the dictators must demand respect and not allow them to be used and underestimated in this game that the tyranny smears in search of the oxygenation that guarantees their remaining in power.

Down with the dictatorship! Nation and Liberty!

Published: 13 March 2015

Angel Santiesteban Included in the Defending Freedoms Project

1425271734_tom-lantos-human-rights-commission24 February 2015 — In December 2012, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, together with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Amnesty International, U.S., created the Defending Freedoms Project, with the objective of supporting human rights and religious freedom worldwide, with a particular focus on prisoners of conscience.

Specifically, the members of Congress who “adopt” prisoners of conscience, in solidarity with those brave men and women throughout the world, pledge to plead publicly for their freedom.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats and the journalist José Antonio Torres, both Cuban political prisoners, have recently been included on the list.

1425271734_ai-usaThis new recognition of Ángel Santiesteban-Prats is added to what he recently received on behalf of the German Eurodeputy, Dr. Christian Ehlerquien, who assumed the political sponsorship of the imprisoned Cuban writer.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Musings of a Blind Man (2) / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 7 January 2015 — To know that there is a Cuban who knew how to work against the dictatorship makes it easier to bear that the regime’s five spies are now back on Cuban soil. I rejoiced when it was revealed that this Cuban — responding not to the North American government but against the dictatorship of the Castros — was the cause, having passed information to United States intelligence agencies about the enemy network that was operating in its territory. He is a free man today, having been exchanged for the last three of those spies who were still in prison in the US].

In turn, the fact that Alan Gross is now back with his family also means relief for those of us who harbor good feelings — especially those of us who know firsthand the suffering of incarceration.

I believe the Castros will win any arm wrestling match in which their arms are supported by feelings. They do not care about keeping innocent people in jail, at least for the crimes with which they are charged. In the Gross case, the regime’s own reports affirm that this is about “a North American subcontractor who intended to smuggle into Cuba equipment which is not authorized by the government of the Island.”

If his crime is one of “smuggling,” then of what espionage is he accused? The government’s legal action was forced in the exchange for its spies, as has recently occurred.

There are good reason that it has an espionage and repression machine, lubricated by the oil of experience over more than half a century. The most important thing, to my understanding, is that the Communists in power have, for the moment, been left without a carrot to mobilize social media.

Throughout their more than 50 years in power, the Castros have been characterized by public “yearnings” — which they use to keep the Cuban people distracted. Nobody can forget the months of intense, manipulative propaganda regarding the return of the boy Elián Gonzalez, later replaced with an even more intense campaign for the return of the spies.

I suppose that at this moment, the ideologues of the regime must be finding themselves in a forced march in search of a new carrot to dangle, as well as a new objective to achieve. In the meantime, they will find entertainment in the embargo, which they like to call a “blockade” in order to produce maximum solidarity effect.

Starting with Obama’s announcement of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, an interesting chapter is opening that could end up, for the regime, being even more destructive than the embargo.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

December, 2014. Border Patrol Prison Unit, Jaimanitas, Havana.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Communication About the Prison Situation of Angel Santiesteban

Inexact information published in recent days with respect to the true state of Angel Santiesteban created information and confusion and has been spread on the Internet, causing concern to those in many countries of the world who are concerned about the unjust imprisonment of this writer.

For him, after confirmation with family sources and others close to the writer, we want to offer the only information at our disposal.

Angel Santiesteban is in a prison in Jaimanitas, in a cell, alone, with the guard at the door all the time. They allow him out of the cell every three days and let him make a phone call. In principal, he can receive visits every 21 days.

The editor

Please sign the link to request Amnesty International to recognize Angel as a prisoner of conscience.

Spanish post
25 August 2014

Angel Santiesteban and the Path of the Fugitive

By Armando Añel, July 30, 2014

The confused news that comes from Havana indicates that either Angel Santiesteban ran away from the prison-settlement where he was unjustly imprisoned or the political police have launched a fabrication to condemn him to a longer term of imprisonment and keep him isolated.

In any case, we must wait for specific statements from the novelist and blogger. Today we know that his children saw him in prison but they couldn’t speak freely with him: a member of State Security was with them the whole minuscule time they were with their father.

I don’t believe it, but if Santiesteban effectively took the decision to flee — in spite of the fact that, as his sister Maria de los Angeles Santiesteban said, at another time he could have remained in the exterior without major inconvenience and he didn’t do so — I congratulate him.

Begging pardon from friends and colleagues who disagree, one never should surrender to a delinquent regime. In Cuba no procedural guarantee exists, and we all know the degree of superlative helplessness that the citizenry suffers. A product that the Castro regime has exported to countries like Venezuela, where the case of Leopoldo Lopez shows that these gestures of chivalry are counterproductive in societies hijacked by the State.

I chatted with Idabell Rosales for a moment. Santiesteban never should go into prison voluntarily. Not only because of the rigged trial that he suffered previously and that made his sentence absolutely unjust, but also because in countries like Cuba all the gear of social coexistence, of daily structure, is flawed in advance and twists the logic of personal relations.

During these last months, in the face of the campaign for his freedom, he saw with clarity the degree of vilification by the Cuban intellectual class not only on the Island or among the pro-Castro creators, but also in the exterior and in a part of the media-oriented dissidence that he says “laments” his detention but travels half the world without advocating for his freedom.

To live in Cuba is to surrender to a darkly surrealist reality, and to yield to the jailers of the country as he did in 2013, seemed to me and seems to me to be doubly absurd. Fugitives don’t hand themselves over. But I respect, scrupulously, the author of The Summer God Slept and those who defend that type of attitude, brave like very few. It appears that God continues to sleep. Although, as Carlos Alberto Montaner said, we also know that He will wake up.

Published in NeoClub Press.

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

Translated by Regina Anavy