Category Archives: Translator: Shane J. Cassidy

Reporters Without Borders Alerted To A New Black Spring in Cuba / Angel Santiesteban

 Towards a new Black Spring in Cuba?

Reporters without Borders have expressed their concern for the situation of aggression against Cuban journalists, arbitrary sentences, death threats and barriers to access registered information over the last few days. The press agency and organization for the defense of freedom of expression Hablemos Press has been the target of the hostility of the Department of State Security.

Its founder, Roberto de Jesús Guerra, was a victim of a violent aggression perpetrated by an agent of the National Revolutionary Police on June 11th in Havana.

His wife, Magaly Norvis Otero Suárez, correspondent of Hablemos Press, indicated that she is presently confined to her home without the ability to walk, having suffered an injury to her knee and a broken septum.

Four days earlier, Raul Ramirez Puig, Hablemos Press correspondent in Mayabeque province, was threatened from a vehicle whose occupants warned him that “anything” might happen to him.

The arbitrary detention of journalists is also occurring very frequently on the island. Mario Hechavarria Driggs, who is also a collaborator with the Centre of Information for Hablemos Press, was detained by agents of the Department of State Security on June 8th.

Yeander Farres Delgado, journalism student, was held for questioning while taking pictures of the Havana Capitol Building, headquarters of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. He was released five hours later.

“Despite the apparent political opening of the Castro regime, the methods used by the authorities to silence dissident journalists are every time more brutal,” said Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders. “Since the last journalist detained during the ’Black Spring’ was released, in 2011, we are witnessing a reinforcement of the repression,” he added.

Hablemos Press denounced, this past June 11, the multiple death threats they have received in the last two months. Journalist Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez received several calls to the newsroom of Hablemos Press. Later, on June 12, she was cited by Department of State Security agents, who pressed her to change the tone of the articles she posts in the information center, which displease the Castro regime.

The Cuban authorities — via the state-owned telecommunications company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) — have even blocked the mobile phones of Roberto de Jesus Guerra, Magaly Novis Otero Suarez, and their colleague Arian Guerra (they were disconnected from the island’s sole network), to prevent them from communicating with each other.

“What is happening with the right to information if Havana suppresses telephone communication at will, while the use of the Internet is so limited on the island?” asks Camille Soulier, head of the Americas division of Reporters Without Borders. “We ask the Cuban state that it reestablish without delay the telephone line of the Hablemos Press journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders also laments the detention conditions of independent journalist Juliet Michelena Diaz, held April 7 in Havana and accused initially of “threats against a neighbor in Centro Habana” and later of “attempt” (the charges against her changed within a week). Her trial is still pending.

Also imprisoned is Yoenni de Jesus Guerra Garcia, Yayabo Press journalist, detained in October of 2013 and condemned in March of 2014 to seven years in jail. The blogger Angel Santiesteban-Prats, jailed since February 28, 2013 on trumped-up charges, is among the 100 “heroes of information” published by Reporters Without Borders.

Cuba is in last place among the countries of the Americas – and 170 out of 180 countries worldwide – in Reporters Without Borders’ current “Freedom of the Press” tally. Read more here.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy. Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

16 June 2014

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New Prize for Angel Santiesteban

Miami: Presentation of Ángel Santiesteban’s novel also includes a tribute to him

Bacardi House, Rosa Blanca Institute, Chef Paella, Connect Cuba, Neo Club Editiones, Green Designs and Alexandria Library welcome to the presentation held on Tuesday, 3 June at 6 pm, of the book by Ángel Santiesteban-Prats called The Summer God Slept awarded the 2013 Franz Kafka Novels From the Drawer Prize.

The novel will be presented by the writers Carlos Alberto Montaner and Antonio Correa Iglesias in the Bacardi House in 1531 Brescia Avenue, Coral Gables (Miami Fl 33124). At the event, the journalist and presenter Karen Caballero will deliver a monetary prize, provided by the second edition of the culture project JOVENAJE, to Ángel Santiesteban’s sister María de los Ángeles Santiesteban who will receive the prize on behalf of her brother.

Between 6 pm and 7 pm the organizers will offer refreshments and tapas. Following this, at 7 pm, the presentation of the novel and activities of JOVENAJE will take place.

JOVENAJE is an independent itinerant event dedicated to paying homage to working writers, cultural promoters and artists. Ángel Santiesteban, dissident writer whose work has been acknowledged for its significance at the national as well as international level, was imprisoned a year ago in Cuba and has been sentenced to five years in a rigged trial. Reporters without Borders included him to the list of 100 Information Heroes.

In Cuba, where the separation of public powers doesn’t exist, judicial structures are only a mere appendix of the political power. In the last years, the Cuban government has resorted to creating false but well-known cases in order to increase the number of political prisoners on the Island without the risk of facing international campaigns for amnesty or unfavorable states of opinions. Santiesteban-Prats is one of the major victims of this new kind of repression.

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Please sign to ask Amnesty International to declare Ángel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy, Michaela Klicnikova

21 May 2014

UNEAC: A VIII Congress Like the Previous / Angel Santiesteban

If Fidel and Raul Castro should be delegates to the UNEAC Congress again, we can predict right now that it will be a copy of the previous, which, viewed from a distance, did not achieve any social scope, saving to mitigating development, destroying illusions and win the trust of power with opportunistic statements.

All those of us from the base who have participated in these events, know that the presidents of the associations, not to mention of UNEAC and is vice-president, are handpicked according to political trust. The vote of the artists don’t decide, but their personalities are malleable.

I remember a ballot count when the now-deceased Guillermo Vidal–a great writer from Las Tunas–obtained a huge triumph in the votes, but he was not invited to join the Congress because his literature and posture were critical.

The system of elections of the UNEAC is similar to that of the president of the nation; a total fraud.

The creator’s guild does not answer to its members but to the State. It’s just a detail that makes an organization useless and falacious.

Dreaming of a Pen Club to work for the benefit of its members, will be the carrot of Cuban writers.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. March 2013

To sign the petition please follow the link, asking Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

7 March 2014

Farewell To The Revolutionary Sport / Angel Santiesteban

Life gives us the opportunity to use it at the whim of our possibilities of talent, for personal gain. In life we engage in a search for what we can be as good professionals, if it makes us happy to do it, and in doing so we discover that we add glory to the society around us, and we make our family proud. This is the perfect formula to feel fulfilled, amen, if we are also well-remunerated.

The outstanding sportsman, Lázaro Rivas, ¨Illustrious son of de San Nicolás de Bari,” could feel like that (except for feeling well-remunerated). He gained the world title in his weight class, in Greco-Roman wrestling, among other awards. He brought glory to his town and to Cuba, until his official retirement in 2011.

In recent days he disappeared physically as a consequence of a brawl with another sportsman. His family members came to say goodbye to his body, as did two trainers and some friends. The corresponding sports officials were not present, nor was the government. That was, in sum, the gesture of gratitude that the State awarded him for his efforts.

The precarious infrastructure on which sportsmen count is no secret to anyone, above all those at the bottom layer, to accomplish their feats. Your would have to appreciate more their human capacities and persistence to achieve such rewards, a great part of those being at the top and refusing opportunities in professional sports where they could earn large sums of cash, the only thing that would guarantee them economic sustenance after the official retirement pension given by the Cuban authorities.

I was witness to seeing the legendary boxer, Teofilo Stevenson, roaming the city to find ingredients for a sancocho (a type of soup), that some shops kept for him, to feed the pigs that he raised in the swimming pool of his house. He also participated in the familiar theater of pleasing foreigners who visited him and were itching to pose for a photo with their idol, after coming to an agreement to pay 100 euros, to put on the table some bottle of good whiskey, and in the best of cases, moreover, invite him to a restaurant, to obtain this souvenir.

The also distinguished fighter, Félix Savón, has had to accept this manner of survival. Visitors leave with his photo and a gesture, or a stench of knowing that their admired gladiators live off handouts. I got to know a Czech who visited them. Many ballplayers live off public charity; they eat and drink at the expense of their fan club.

Thanks to the opening of the State, above all in baseball, those older players with fewer performances are permitted to go to small clubs that can pay for them in some way, either as athletes or as trainers, so they can live of their savings, some years without destitution.

Among them are the pitcher Lazo, today contracted by a club in Mexico, and before that Victor Mesa in Japan. At least the most distinguished athletes have that opportunity of survival. The others, those whose names have been erased from the collective memory, today are ghosts lost in society, sons whom no one wants. That’s the destiny that revolutionary sports assures.

We would say that a large part of the most talented have made the most difficult decision: to abandon their country and their families, without knowing when they will return. A sad fate for Cuban sportsmen.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. January 2014

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy and Regina Anavy

10 January 2014

More Dirty Tricks Of The Dictatorship On The Eve Of The CELAC Summit / Angel Santiesteban

Among my papers they found an issue of Encounter Magazine and one of Cuban Hispanic; they seized them because they appear to be against the Regime, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and they took a text from Amnesty International what explains who they are, what they do, and what are the rights of the citizens of the world. They took everything as if they were loaded down a lot of plutonium.

The detailed search was carried out by Major Joaquin – alias “the bogeyman” – and twelve officers who accompanied him. Then Major Cobas was responsible, along with two other officers, to communicate with me and he’s suspended my pass. I just smiled. They are like morons who insist on being brilliant.

I am here for a falsified crime, what does it matter that they now invent a disciplinary infraction — we stared at each other — anyway, I told him, this doesn’t hurt me either.

– I’m happy for you, he said.

– You are my reason for being – I already said at the door.

– And you, ours.

We looked at each other and he stayed seated behind the desk with all the arrogance that totalitarianism gives them.

It is no secret that the real reason for this search is to not allow me to walk the streets on the eve of the CELAC (Community of Latin American States) Summit, a meeting the leaders and their delegations will attend regardless of the continued repression of the dissidence and persecution of those who dare to think differently, and therefore, the incarcerated.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. January 2014

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

14 January 2014

Dancing and Enjoying The National Symphony / Angel Santiesteban

This article was published in The New Herald on the 12th of August 2013

Empty lenses and blocked wagons

Raúl Rivero

Madrid – It now appears that the stubborn, closed, dogmatic, blind that will not see the changes of the Cuban regime are the human rights activists, the Ladies in White, independent journalists, former political prisoners and opponents will wake up tomorrow under a repressive atmosphere that continues. It ensures that there is a lack of main focus to see the reality of life, as if the beatings, the dungeons, the repudiation rallies and harassment were shadows from the past.

That is the tendency among some natives and foreign scholars, teachers and philosophers, “bishops and ambassadors,” as José Martí says in the poem The Girl from Guatemala.

It is also a school of thought in the complex and varied waves of those who suffer fully from the Stockholm syndrome and resent the critical and constant presence of the groups of men and women in Cuba who remember every day that taking sweet potatoes off the ration book and the capitalism of crappy food is one thing. is freedom is another.

A similar view, colored by the rules of politics or diplomacy that are expressed in a kind of embarrassing or almost clandestine solidarity, is that some politicians have a great international record of being Democrats. To them, the vicissitudes of power and finances give them special progressive lenses that have conveniently embedded clouds and clarities through which to observe the Cuban scene.

Yes, intellectuals and artists who were once jaded, out of fear or because they wanted to, they will soon get airplane tickets to not be late for that famous call which is still open by the Ministry of Culture: enjoy and dance to the National Symphony. And not a single word about the imprisonment of the writer Ángel Santiesteban and of Librado Linares, essayist and teacher, one of the Black Spring prisoners who refused to go into exile who suffers sieges and attacks on his home and family, off in Camajuaní.

Why not, this Sunday, after the persecutions, arrests, pushing and scuffles with police, the Ladies in White say something about the transformations.

The peaceful opposition, of course, react according to their experience and independent journalists tell the story of each day. They do not design episodes of paralysis and stagnation. They live and write.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

13 December 2013

Cuba, Dignified (?!), Custodian of UN Human Rights Teaches Its Citizens The Art (?!) Of Repression / Angel Santiesteban

The Cuban musicians who sell their soul to the dictatorship

What was always everyday, the times of freedom reject. This happens in the country’s culture. A great share of Cuban artists have always allowed themselves to be used for political purposes. They never asked why or for what. They only agreed to hold their concerts, regardless what the real purpose of the alleged cultural activity would be.

Until the 90s or so, when they were interviewed (it also happened with athletes), they made clear their support for and gratefulness “to the Revolution,” but above all “to the Maximum Leader Fidel Castro.” The discourse of the creators was changing, and they no longer expressed such recognition, and dedicated their achievements to “the Cuban people and my family.”

The money they earned in the international market, which until then it was heresy to save it, even in a bank account abroad, they failed to surrender to government coffers, not to say, to confiscate, as they did with every right they seized. Then cynicism made its way into cultural society: it began to take on one side and the other no matter where it came from. The important thing was to survive.

Despite the freedoms, today they continue to exercise their artistic functions in the same way. They do not mind being used and programmed in the discredited “anti-imperialist Plaza,” “Plaza of the Revolution”, and whatever political act they perform in. The important thing is to be on the official list and are allowed to exercise their art, keep their savings earned on their trips and buy luxury cars (the blackmail of the famous letters (the permission to buy cars) signed by the Ministry of Culture).

On 10 December, the world’s day of celebrating Human Rights, in this case the group Arnaldo y su Talisman, was summoned to a podium in front of the house of the dissident Antonio Rodiles, where an International Meeting on culture and free opinions was going to take place where they would exchange experiences in the totalitarian system. The great horror was the use of Young Pioneers, children who witnessed the repression exercised by the regime’s henchmen.

I think that after the many reasons for the musicians to refuse, this use of children was a strong motive to refuse to be used as the court jester. We know that the artist, having been turned into a small business owner, who has opened private restaurants, and like the popular phrase says, “without the rope, you won’t enjoy the pleasures.”

The truth is that now, with good reason, the invitation to take place these days is questioned on American soil. You can not be part of the oppression and sit down to eat with the opposition. This cynicism as a national sport is intolerable. Honestly, it’s better to play music for the family or starve to death, than to be, in addition to being false, a lapdog for the dictatorship.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. December 2013

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

26 December 2013

Christmas In Cuba:”Paradise” With Many Slaves / Angel Santiesteban

Enslaved prisoners

December 25th: The inmates of Cuban prisons have worked in the condition of slaves which they find themselves.

The Blockade: The Longest Genocide in History

 

For them there is no Christmas or New Year. All they will have is to exercise their muscles to fulfill the tough work which the regime obliges them to do.

At a recent meeting, a chief of prisons, publicly stated that he preferred working with prisoners versus civilians, because the latter left when they finished their 8-hour working day, while the prisoners could go many days with no rights, not even to protest, infinitesimal pay, and cheap food. Compare that to what the Cuban officials say in Geneva, that Cuban prisoners are respected with regards to salaries and hours, when from dawn to dusk the sweat runs down their poorly paid and badly fed backs.

After several days with a menu of rice, soup and eggs alternating with hash, they offer them for Christmas dinner, rice, peas and eggs. They don’t protest because the blackmail is constant. If they don’t go along they’re sent to closed prisons, lose their passes and the annual two months credit, and even the possibility of getting out on parole when they’ve served half their sentence.

The only thing that remains is ability to work, bite your tongue, and every time you have the opportunity to take revenge, do your work badly.

After every sunrise they look at the horizon, and all they see is permanent darkness.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. December 2013

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

27 December 2013

Mandela Has Died: Hopefully One Day His Real Thoughts About The Dictator Fidel Castro Will Come To Light

I always assumed, out of respect and ethics, not to speak disparagingly of the dead. This time I will not. To this I will turn to a literary level suggestion. Nor will I agree to see the stains on the sun, when this African leader has filled pages of heroism for his pacifist stance toward which belonged to him in his own right, and which he demanded for his people; but trying to be consistent with our actions and thoughts, I remember I wrote a post of respect and sorrow to suffering Madiba, because he had not wanted to look at the pain of the Cuban people, and publicly assumed friendship with Fidel Castro, and his sympathy for the “revolution”: “I am a loyal man and I will never forget that in the darkest moments of our country in the fight against apartheid, Fidel Castro was on our side.”

He was also a friend of Saddam Hussein and the then head of state of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi (whom he awarded the highest distinction in South Africa, the Order of Good Hope), which he justified by saying: “I do this because our moral authority dictates that we can not abandon those who have helped us during the darkest moments in the history of our country. They provide us with both resources and instruction to struggle and win. And those South Africans who have scolded me for being loyal to our friends, can literally go to hell. ”

We must not fail to recognize that the struggle in Angola, particularly the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, helped crack the racist regime of South Africa in the last century, hence it is not wrong to say that Cuba influenced the defeat of apartheid, and consequently in the release from prison of which was later the first president democratically elected by universal suffrage in that country, which from that point of view, justified his gratitude to the Cuban leader and his dictatorship.

But ignoring the pains of Cubans and being a personal friend of the tyrant, will be one of the great contradictions that history may be responsible to explain, or make us understand. Arguments may then validate his attitude, particularly when he openly criticized Sani Abacha, a corrupt and brutal Nigerian dictator in the 90s.

What is certain and less understandable is that during his visit to Cuba, just to be consistent with his history and consistent with his thinking, he should have demanded the release of political prisoners and, in particular Mario Chanes de Armas, a former fellow soldier of Fidel, considered the world’s oldest political prisoner, who surpassed, at the time of Mandela’s visit, the time of imprisonment suffered by Mandela. However, he sank into the embrace of totalitarianism, something against which Madiba had fought and risked his life for.

Hopefully one day it will come out into the open, away from the grateful man, his real thoughts about the dictator Fidel Castro, and his decision to keep his criticism silent, because I refuse to think that a man of such magnitude, as was Nelson Mandela, has been honest and approved a process which is devoid of the slightest democracy, going in contradiction to his thinking and way of being: “I do not want to be presented in such a way that whitewashes the darker parts of my life”, he said. So God has taken him to that place which has been earned, and the Cubans too.

“Real leaders should be prepared to sacrifice everything for the liberty of their people”.

“To be free we must not only get rid of the chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

“It is the duty of journalists to examine and bring to light the conduct of public figures”.

“If I am your leader, you must listen to me. If you do not want to listen to me, what you must do is abandon me as a leader”.

“Let freedom reign. The sun has never illuminated a more glorious human achievement.”

“To be free is not only free from one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”

“When I left the prison that was my mission: to liberate both the oppressed and the oppressor.”

The great reality, in which must those who supported him and his critics must agree, is that with his continuing struggle he managed to free his people; being selfish, he was interested in nothing else other than the welfare of his own.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. December 2013.

Editors note: Difficulties with the internet of our contacts in Cuba have been the reason why this post comes so late and when Mandela is no longer the “theme”. These are the same difficulties which I have mentioned in connection with the allegations published by Dania Virgen García on Cubanet on harassment and threats against Ángel Santiesteban which he has not bowed to.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

19 December 2013

URGENT: Angel Santiesteban Harassed And Threatened In The Prison Of The Regime Which Is A Member Of The UN Human Rights Commission

The incommunication problems because of our lack of internet connections in Cuba have prevented us from offering, as it should have been, the inside scoop on the harassment and threats that the writer Ángel Santiesteban-Prats is suffering since early this month at the prison in which he is currently located. We were hoping to offer firsthand reports narrated by Angel, to those witnessed by the family who related this to us by phone.

But not even these communication problems have gotten the regime off the hook: the journalist Dania Virgen García sent from the island an article denouncing this new violation of the rights of Angel. It proves once again that there are many who are willing to stop the injustice committed against Angel from going unpunished.

We publicly thank Dania Virgen García and all those who have already reproduced this article in their blogs and other digital media.

The Editor

Here is Dania’s article:

Lambasting in the prison of the writer Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

by Dania Virgen García

Havana, Cuba, 17th of Decebmber 2013, Dania Virgen García/www.cubanet.org.-

In the penal settlement of MININT (Ministry of the Interior), in Lawton, in the Havana municipality of Diez de Octubre, where the writer Ángel Santiesteban-Prats is held, the re-educator tried to use the common criminals against him, this past 11th of December.

In the ten months that the writer has been held in the settlement, he has never participated in the physical countings, inspections or political activities.

On the day in question, Santiesteban remained in the barracks, when the prisoners were called to be counted. The re-educator, not seeing the writer, was annoyed and began to shout insults against him.

Then, from the mouths of the prisoners themselves, he knew that the re-educator had said he would put him “in a box”. The inmates assumed it was a reference to a coffin.

The reeducator said, moreover, that he would make a report to his superiors for his misconduct and that Santiesteban was not a political prisoner.

The inmates realized that reeducator had lied, because some of them have seen the writer’s ID card which has a green stripe that crosses from one side to another, and over it are the letters CR (counter-revolutionary), and under his picture the is the word “Warning”.

On the night of Friday 13, the settlement was visited by the new head of CETEM, Major Cobas, who tried to provoke and question the writer.

Since entering prison, the writer Santiesteban-Prats has never eaten prison stew; instead he eats the provisions which his family has sent him. He is never seen dressed in prison clothes and he has never accepted the personal supplies which are given to the prisoners.

He was withdrawn on April 9th this year, from the camp of forced labor known as CETEM, La Lima, located in the town of Guanabacoa, to Prison 1580, with the intent that he will not be present during the visit of international journalists who were manipulated by the regime officials.

Currently, the Casa de las Americas Prize for narrative maintains the same denial in the settlement.

Santiesteban thinks it was naive of the jailer or else that the new boss wants to provoke him, thus causing a prison indiscipline, accusing him of a crime to be able to send him to a closed prison. He suspects that the guards are being manipulated by the repressive Department 21 of the State Security.

Rest assured that whatever the intention, he will remain with his principles and ethics, which he has maintained in the 10 months he has been held for an alleged domestic assault that the trial could not prove.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

17 December 2013