Honduras Slaps with White Gloves / Angel Santiesteban

 

After the Congress of Honduras, according to the validity of its statutes, decided to impeach former president Manuel Zelaya, the mafia of leftist Latin American presidents have attacked from all sides the new elected government of Porfirio Lobo, expressing their support for former president Zelaya, who took his dismissal as a coup.

The late Hugo Chavez was the one who led the crusade in his favor. Since that historic event, the “wound has not healed” and, once the new president has committed to give continuity  to Democracy in his nation — Democracy which was reaffirmed during last presidential election when Hondurans did not gave their vote to Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the former president’s wife, and elected instead the agricultural entrepreneur Porfirio Lobo — these pro-Castro governments have joined efforts to plot and make it difficult the advancement of his plans for social, political and economic development.

They have done the same thing against Paraguay and, more subtly, against Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Colombia and Chile. Even though some of these governments voice a leftist speech, they do not align with such extreme attitude as of the aforementioned mafia, who do share their strategies from an ideological model established by Cuba, the most trenchant one being the use of doctors, technicians and personnel from several professions who are sent to “international missions” to “irrigate” among the impoverished classes, “like seeds are irrigated on a fertile  field,” the populist harangue, proposing to them a supposedly suitable mold for their specific needs, with no warning whatsoever that it is a failed formula, which has plunged into an absolute poverty and chaos both Cuba and Venezuela. Nor they are told that in these countries, when government has no choice but to face their own failures, they cling to an archaic historical excuse, but one that is still effective to deceive the unwary: blaming the government of the United States for the disaster.

This extreme leftist wing has used and keeps using their public platforms to attack previous and current US administrations, exposing a visceral hatred based on false populist speeches, but they do not use those same platforms as they should, to advocate for people’s freedom, especially to ensure people their right to dissent against governments, their right to criticize and express such criticism publicly, but also, above all, to create better economic opportunities to alleviate poverty, to ensure an effective fight against drug trafficking and crime in general.

Times today, fortunately, thanks to development in the fields like communications, do not allow the truth to be hidden anymore, as it happened in Cuba for decades. And even though those governments want to keep the wall up and strengthened, it is impossible to do so, and news transgresses the media silence of dictators.

I congratulate the Panamanian president, Juan Carlos Varela for the opportunity offered to Cuban dissidents to express and explain with dignity, especially to the rest of Latin America that still believes in justice, the abuses and outrages that the regime practices daily in the Cuban archipelago against those who defend the right to think differently. Thank you from my cell that has seen the light and the splendor of freedom.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

11 April 2015. Border Control Prison, Havana, Cuba

 

Translated by: Rafael

Hitler, Stalin y Fidel / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban-Prats, 14 May 2015 — Like in an old historical museum of the horror of the Cuban Revolution, the visit of the most powerful rulers to Fidel Castro’s lair is expected. It’s like visiting a living mummy, still able to continue to do harm to those who do not coincide with his directives. They have chosen the photographs instead, because they are ashamed of the grimaces and gestures — that come along age — to be seen by the rest of the world.

For some presidents who visit the Cuban archipelago, leaving without a snapshot alongside the old wolf it is like going to Paris and not being photographed at the Eiffel Tower. I understand that in politics and to any human being in general, being photographed with the old jackal means a moral disgrace. I would not portray myself beside Hitler or Stalin nor even next to their wax replicas. Times of dignity are scarce. Some call it diplomacy, however talking on the phone with Antonio Rodiles, we agree that subject is about telling the truth in a decent and settled way.

It is pitiful that suddenly, in an incoherent attitude, the presidents of the European Union behave so far from what they expressed in their speeches at the opening of Cuba-US talks with the United States. I do not think that negotiations with Washington and the European Union materialize, provided that they are willing to “drop their pants and being spanked” by Raul Castro, because any agreement that includes Democracy, meaning, multiple parties, human rights, free and direct elections, and the departure of Castro from power — simple needs of 21st century –Raul will not accept.

Anyway, old communist wolves will draw something out of this political match, especially now that the Venezuelan economy is in chaos and continues its free fall. Therefore they have rowed alongside Russians and Chinese, because if Cuba-US negotiations should not work, as it seems, they will have to take advantage of someone in order to survive, which is already a custom of the Castro tribe.

I remember that phrase from childhood when things seemed dull: “Every man for himself.” We will say the same words when the dictatorship’s tantrum begins. Meanwhile, tickets and showtimes remain the same at the exhibition of the “red mummy”.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

14 May 2015

Border Patrol Jail, Havana, Cuba

Translated by: Rafael

Chronicles of Birania*: Justice? / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015 — It is laughable that the prosecutor in Santa Clara pursued a case for “injury” (when it was really a case of “attempted murder and injury”) against Jose Alberto Botell who, in an attempt to assassinate opposition leader Guillermo Fariñas, seriously wounded one of his companions, a Lady in White, who ended up in intensive care with life-threatening injuries, and stabbed four other human-rights activists. For all of this the prosecutor sought only a five-year sentence, but the Court took pity on the “sad case” with murderous intentions, and sentenced him to four years, knocking one year off his punishment.

In my case—after demonstrating my innocence at trial, where I presented five witnesses who they then rejected—even assuming I had committed the crime for which I was charged, the maximum punishment according to the law was four years. They violated my rights by adding to the charge against me an allegation that I was not subject to, for the sole purpose of adding one year to my sentence. This shows that there are two penal codes: one for those sent to commit crimes for State Security, and another for dissidents.

The day that freedom arrives, and all the excesses of the Castro family and the institutions that bend to their will are investigated, many will be surprised, or pretend to be, because the atrocities were committed before everyone, in public view. This is exactly what dictators fear, the day of reckoning. This is why they are currently busy taking the lives of those who will accuse the guilty, and present evidence of their abuses and injustices.

Meanwhile, the opposition has no choice but to continue pointing out the deaths, the abuses, the humiliations.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, June 3, 2015

Border Prison Unit, Havana

*Translator’s Note:
Birania –  from Birán, the name of the Castro family ranch, where Fidel and Raul were born, used metaphorically to describe Cuba as their personal plantation.

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

I Plead to Human Rights Organizations on Behalf of the Slave Labor in Cuban Prisons / Angel Santiesteban

 

The exploitation of man by the State

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 17 May 2015 — If there were an indictment against Cuban government and its socialist process,among many other things, most of which are coincidentally human rights violations, would be charges of slavery in which they keep their nationals.

Slave labor in the Castro regime’s prisons

It is known that although the dictatorship signs lucrative contracts (in the millions) with various countries, for sending them Cuban professionals — including doctors, medical technicians and university professors — it pays these professionals a tiny percentage of what the State charges for their services.

Besides that, for the most part, these professionals join these adventures not from altruism, “internationalism” or any convenient adjective by which they are labeled by the totalitarian regime, but out of mere survival instincts; to help their families and get them out of the totally precarious conditions in which they live.

It is not misleading to point out that those two years of family separation have a crisis impact that results in a higher rate of divorces, in some cases in families with children; another common consequence is that many infidelities are forgiven by one or both spouses.

As far as I am concerned, I have witnessed, besides physical and psychological abuses committed against the inmates, who have all of their rights violated, including their schedules. Prisoners are sent to work in the hardest trades, from dawn and with a lousy breakfast, and are returned to their facilities after twelve hours or more.

Even I have sometimes seen that on their arrival, they have been forced to unload a few tons of cement bags — on their shoulders — or unload trucks of rebar and then receive a miserable salary that does not even guarantee them a minimum support for their minor children.

Report from within “Combinado del Este” prison.

That slave work is done in the worst abusive conditions, with torn boots, tattered clothes, starvation, humiliation from correctional officers who guard them. This is a real slavery that has nothing to envy to the one practiced by the first settlers on their arrival on the island of Cuba.

The prisoners work seven days a week

This past May 1st, some prisoners decided to take the day off to wash their clothes, a task they usually do on their return from the daily work. And that attitude was taken by Major Aliet as an act of rebellion, and as punishment he kept them out of work for several days, which prevents them from receiving that puny wage, and, above all, prevents them from leaving the severity of the prison that drives them mad after several days cloistered. Any reaction to the abuse is sanctioned or they get additional charges to add more time to their sentences.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats, Military Prison, Jaimanitas, Havana Cuba.

 

In the Border Patrol military facility of where I am — besides taking them out to work today, Sunday May 17th — they were denied the corresponding break time by the order of officer Parra, head of the prison logistics.

Then you have to listen to the Castro family trying to defend its dictatorship, its iron-dictatorship, its humiliating-dictatorship, its unbearable-dictatorship that rules us for over half a century, about which one can only feel ashamed for them.

We plead that international bodies accept this letter about these violations letter that lacerate Human Rights.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

May 17, 2015.

Border Patrol Prison, Havana, Cuba

Translated by: Rafael

Another Stripe for the Tiger / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 17 May 2015 — The latest report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, confirmed the permanence of Cuba and Venezuela in the “black list” because of violations of those rights “has not changed”.

This violation situation has remained in Cuba for decades without any particular interest shown in resolving it, because to do so would mean respect for freedom, a matter that goes in the opposite direction to its totalitarian process, therefore they will continue to ignore the “blacklist “and as many penalties of that nature as are issued.

Instead, the regime does not want to stay on the US government list of terrorist countries or countries that support terrorism, and in this particular case, Raul Castro struggles and shows a remarkable interest in Cuba being removed from that category. But such aspiration it is not because of a sudden shame, but because it was indispensable to ensure his permanence and that of his heirs in power, as only by Cuba being removed from the list, and through trading with the United States in order to get the hard currency needed for the ailing national economy and thus ensure that continuity.

Murdered Cuban Dissident 

Both sanctions, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and the US State Department, are as serious as they can be for what they represent, but it is only the first one, because it does not carries penalties, it is bearable by the level of the Cuban government shamelessness; the second one, however, it has led to unbearable practical consequences today.

It should be added that the dictatorship was resentful in its core with the common position of the European Union, which together with the United States Department of State position, brought to its knees the challenging attitude, pride and arrogance of the Castro brothers after that extreme (human rights) violation such as the “Black Spring”, that sent to prison 75 dissidents with the malevolent idea — in the future — of exchanging them for five spies who were serving sentences in The United States, which the whole world rejected generally and categorically.

The strongest blows dealt to the Cuban dictatorship were, among others, the repudiation of the downing of the “Brothers to the Rescue” plane and the execution of innocent young people who attempted to reach Miami in a hijacked tugboat.

My question is: What has changed within the Castros’ dictatorship to no longer be considered a violator of human rights, nor a country that supports terrorism; we all know that if is not an (active) sponsor as it would want to be, it is precisely because of the economic sanctions.

As the proverb says in Cuba, “It would be a horse of another color” if the economy improved. It would re-awaken the hegemonic dreams that have never been forgotten but postponed until better times — in their precise, focused and not so foolish quest to legitimize their “anti-imperialist” front, and overtake the United States — their most powerful enemy ideologically — as the number one economy worldwide, if they have support from Russia, China and Venezuelan oil.

I am confident that President Obama and his team of advisers know it very well, and also that they know how to play the political “chess match” where the freedom of Cuba and its fate are decided and, why not, the fate of the United States by either sustaining or eradicating a “cancer” from its geographical hemisphere.

17 May, 2015

Border Control Prison.

Havana, Cuba

 Translated by Rafael

Without Freedom, Without Justice, Without Law / Amir Valle and Elisa Tabakman

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.

Amir Valle
Literary representative of Ángel Santiesteban

Elisa Tabakman
Editor ofÁngel’s blog, The Children Nobody Wanted

Repressors salaries have been doubled / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 6 June 2015 — In essence, the President of a country should not serve another function but, first of all, manage the assets of people with ethics, fairness and the highest honesty, and never, ever should he believe that the state treasury can be used in his own benefit, directly or indirectly.

And I think that here lies, as we all know, the lousy management of the Castro brothers, especially Fidel, who once he “left” power, handed — in terminal phase and in countdown, even though with an “IV serum in vein” from Venezuela — to his brother Raul, the current dictator.

Recently I learned that in the Interior Ministry (do not know if in the Armed Forces as well), an effort has begun to double the salaries of the soldiers who have the merits that apply to such a reward, called Order 19th. It strikes me that, specifically, the repressive forces are being rewarded, and makes me think they are buying the “loyalty” of their members.

According to what guards who work directly with me told me, I knew they were prioritized among their units. Surely, the vast majority of readers will agree with me that those working in public health, education, agriculture, food and industry ministries or culture ministry, deserve more such benefit; but above all, pregnant women, elderly and low-income families deserve it.

However, agents of the repressive power — those thugs running the chain of injustice and abuse — are indispensable(for the regime, and therefore, the ones rewarded on top of their already high salary, compared with the average wage, and the ongoing perks such as affordable homes, most of which being built nowadays are given to them. They are also given appliances, furniture, clothes and food at low prices, not to mention vacations with their families, in areas only reserved for tourists, and so on.

Ultimately, after rewarding the aforementioned fields, which are directly in charge of the welfare of the people, I would agree that a raise for the police force around the country was needed if it was a force that responded in strict compliance with the law, always in favor the people, specially fighting against the proliferation of drugs, crime and rigor every society needs.

It is way different, rewarding those who, taking orders from a Dictatorship, abuse women as Ladies in White, who every Sunday are beaten, humiliated and imprisoned.

It is curious that this directive comes in the wake of talks between Cuba and the United States, and the European Union. I always say that the only thing these talks will achieve is to strengthen the dictatorship, and will give more economic resources to the regime to hold on to power and harden the totalitarian control, and they are already showing that.

Once they killed us with the money of the socialist era; then, they have continued doing so, thanks to Venezuelan oil. But soon it will be the economy sustained and supported by North America and the European Union financing these crimes.

Every time the people of Cuba are left more alone. Is it true or is just one of my bad impression?

Border Prison Unit, Havana

Translated by: Rafael

Different Methods, Same Objective: To Annihilate the Opposition / Angel Santiesteban

Guillermo Fariñas, targeted by State Security

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, June 3, 2015 — No “disinterested” person would say that the encounter by José Alberto Botell, the aggressor, with Guillermo Fariñas and his companions was casual, of a personal nature, or even an ordinary attempted mugging.

On the contrary, we know that the government is committed to eliminating its opponents. It is obvious that the attack was thought out, planned, and strategically arranged.

The perpetrator must have been extorted, as State Security commonly does, to induce him to commit such a crime. They must have promised him that they would forget some other crime that he had committed, maybe a worse one, if he carried out the order to kill Fariñas, and even then maybe he didn’t fully comply out of fear of being sacrificed later.

Guillermo Fariñas in center of photo with crutch.

The attacker’s life is now in as much danger as Fariñas’s, because they don’t leave loose ends, witnesses who could some day be their own accusers. But they sent the “convict” to a camp or settlement, and he will not serve even half of his sentence; they maintain him with privileges and facilities far different than those of real prisoners.

Meanwhile, State Security will continue studying another strategy for killing Fariñas. Remember that they committed other assassination attempts against Oswaldo Payá before the “accident” that killed him.

There are pictures taken a week before the fateful day showing the condition of his minivan after a State truck hit it, purposely dragging him along an avenue, but without managing to accomplish the task of eliminating the opposition leader, and without concern that his family was inside the vehicle.

Despite the tremendous media fiasco resulting from the failed attempt to assassinate Guillermo Fariñas, the government has shown that it is resolved to get rid of its political opponents.

The Castro Regime Misogyny

On Sunday May 31, they again violently repressed the Ladies in White. Every day the dictatorship is busy letting the opposition know that it is willing to continue governing the country as if it were its private property, even if to accomplish this it has to murder, savagely beat, arrest, and falsely accuse those who try to prevent it.

Lady-in-White Yaqueline Bonne—who recently claimed that State Security proposed that she become an undercover agent in exchange for relaxed prison conditions for her son Yasser—has been physically punished, as if it were not enough that they sent her son from a settlement to a camp with harsher conditions.

The Cuban governors joke with increasing cynicism about talks with the United States and the European Union. Wishful thinking of improvements in human rights will die of heartbreak.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, June 3, 2015

Border Prison Unit, Havana

The Church That Is Oblivious to Reality / Angel Santiesteban

Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Photo courtesy Radio Onu

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 23 May 2015 — The beatification of Father Arnulfo Romero is the mirror where, for El Salvador, Latin America, and the world, the pastors of God should look and reflect, in order to attend the spiritual and material needs of their flock, which simply means remaining alongside the aspirations and suffering of their people, as an intrinsic part of the Church.

The churches, especially the Catholic Church, perhaps the least swayed by dictatorial government—should accept pain as Christ showed us. I also feel it is the duty and obligation of intellectuals through their works to examine, discuss, and make suggestions regarding the disputes that concern the populace. If the Church, the intellectuals, and the opposition politicians join forces, the totalitarian power would not abuse nor run over the most basic rights of Cubans.

You cannot count on the pastors of the Christian and Protestant churches; most have acquired wealth like the new rich in these times of crisis, or they are silent out of fear of losing their property and being removed from their congregations.

The Catholic Church—beginning with the most glaring examples, Cardinal Jaime Ortega and the national curia—has turned its back on its people, humbling themselves before, and agreeing with every scheme of, the military that misgoverns the nation.

Fidel Castro with Catholic hierarchy (taken from Internet)

What image does the Church present when it defends the dictatorship and covers up its misdeeds, to the point of becoming an accomplice? When has the top Church hierarchy called on the tyrants (or presidents, as they prefer to call them) to defend the people from their injustices?

What credibility does the Church have if it is unable to raise its voice to protect the brave and peaceful Ladies in White, who—Sunday after Sunday—are harassed, beaten, and jailed right under their noses, just opposite the church of Santa Rita, where they punctually attend mass?

What good are the words of the Bible if the actions of the Church nullify the noble deeds they profess and advocate?

Raul Castro with Cardinal Jaime Ortega

We do not want a bishop to be assassinated, as in the case of the Blessed Romero; but we do need a bishop who is as close to God as to his oppressed people, and who will confront injustice—barefoot, sweaty, with patched, faded clothes, and above all, with that light in his eyes that covers and guides his flock like a protective mantle.

Hopefully the day is coming when we will feel that the Church is an extension of the people, and vice versa, and that its temples are our houses, and we no longer encounter the feeling of alienation and distance that has invaded us for some time, seeing them with their expensive, spotless vestments, their rosy skin shielded from the sun’s rays with creams, in their air-conditioned offices, or observing their people from behind the windows of their automobiles.

At times, we’ve confused their speeches with the Party line, because they never utter even a faintly critical word or suggestion to seek a necessary and urgent change in Cuban society.

I don’t know who the candidates are to replace the current Cardinal, who is already past retirement age. Hopefully it will be one of the righteous, who is rooted in the people and does not fear the tyrant.

I can never forget Bishop Siro (from Pinar del Rio, now retired) who always accompanied his flock, his people, without fear of consequences, adding noble pages to the history that we who barely live in freedom will one day collect, and which for now we keep in our affections.

I understand that in some way Father Conrado is a disciple of Bishop Siro, or of the Blessed Romero, who in their own times and in their own ways were not afraid of attacks by the hitmen of the dictators and of the Church itself, which squelches any rebellion by its ministers.

We dream that the Church wins and regains its place in society—especially among young people, who so badly need its ancient wisdom, its fellowship, light, and love—and that some intellectuals accompany us.

 Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

May 23, 2015, Border Prison Unit, Havana