An Opportune Difference Between Cuba and Venezuela / Angel Santiesteban

Thanks to the god of the communication media, in Venezuela the national and foreign TV hasn’t been sold to Chavismo, and they report on events immediately, without concern for reprisals.

In Cuba we face another reality. The foreign broadcasters (independent national stations don’t exist), rarely look behind the news that would harm the government, that would immediately put an end to the long vacations they take in the archipelago living in five-star hotels. Continue reading

Serious Denunciations Before the IACHR: Human Rights Situation of Journalists in Cuba. The Santiesteban Case

The lawyer, Veizant Boloy, and the journalists Roberto de Jesús Guerra and Julio Aliaga have presented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights denunciations about the permanent violations of human rights of the independent journalists, and explained how the persecution of information professionals operates. They have shown the Commission the video of the detention of Angel Santiesteban on November 8, 2012.

Cuban journalists reported before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that they continue being persecuted in Cuba. 

March 25, 2014

Washington, March 25 (EFE). Two Cuban journalists and a Cuban lawyer reported today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that independent reporters “continue suffering persecution” in Cuba.

They explained in a hearing on the subject about the situation of freedom of expression and the rights of journalists on the island, organized by the IACHR, an autonomous entity of the Organization of American States (OEA), at which no representative of Raúl Castro’s government turned up. Continue reading

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

S.O.S. The Soldiers Are Suffocating Us / Angel Santiesteban

A daring prisoner has revealed to me the intention of high-ranking soldiers to become my enemies. To accomplish this they took away a pass, the most sacred thing for them; then they reduced even more the precarious nutrition. The ration of chicken, which is provided two times a month, has been reduced to one sole occurrence, and what before could be divided by two persons now is shared among three. The acid picadillo has been substituted for the main dish.

The chiefs of the Direction of Prisons, seeing that their pressure has not been effective, have advanced by four hours the schedule for returning from the pass. Before it was at six in the evening; now they stipulated that it be at two. Another gesture of manipulation has been that of the four hours granted for time on the telephone so prisoners can communicate with their families, they have left only one.

The day of access to the pass, they assign work that could be done the following day, with the sole purpose of annoying the prisoners, to increase the ill will against me, since, according to Lieutenant Colonel Eduardo, the head of the penal prosecution, I don’t comply with the schedule and discipline established because the inmates allow me to do it. He asked that they confront me, that they demand I be “re-educated,” so that, once they succeed, they will have privileges returned to them.

Today, payday, their salaries, gained according to contract, have been reduced; that is to say, they can calculate the amount they earned in the month and thus the salary they are owed. However, without explanation, they have been fleeced in the worst style of highway robbery.

I can’t predict how long the prisoners will support this subjugation of their “rights,” in a country where rights don’t exist, especially if people are detained in penitentiaries, where they are persecuted and receive the most inhuman treatment, where the blackmail of the officials is constant, since they control the prisoners’ lives and destinies. Tomorrow, for example, with a single movement of their lips, they can order that those prisoners wake up in Santa Clara, Camaguey or Santiago de Cuba, and thus be removed from their families.

I continue writing my literature in this sabbatical year that the dictatorship has granted me, and I remain standing in the struggle for human rights for all Cubans.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. March 2014.

Editor’s Note: The dictatorship continues to systematically violate the rights of Angel Santiesteban, in breach of their own laws. By law he should get a pass for 72 hours every 70 days, in agreement with the prison regimen to which he is submitted. From the second of August 2013 until now, they have “granted” him one single pass at the end of September. That week the rest of the prisoners “enjoyed” a pass of six days, and he was returned to remain alone with the jailers. These punishments that they impose on him don’t scare him. They should realize by now that the more they try to harm him, the more they strengthen him, and they are even collaborating with Cuban literature, which has – for a year – one of the great talents working without pause.

To sign the petition to have Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience, please follow the link.

Translated by Regina Anavy

19 March 2014

Signatories Forever, Unredeemed Brownnosers / Angel Santiesteban

The signatures of those artists from the unforgettable book open at UNEAC headquarters match the political calls of the dictatorship to support the execution of minors who tried to emigrate to the United States by hijacking the boat across the bay to the ultramarine village of Regla. Although the passengers declared that they didn’t hurt anyone, they were deceived. They promised them that if they surrendered, nothing would happen. But the next day they were executed after a summary trial.

After that event and the logical international condemnation that it aroused, they looked for accomplices, people who would “give rope,” and just as in the film, “The Man Maisinicu,” they involved more people, besmirching their hands with manure and blood, a recurring combination of a totalitarian regime.

Now these intellectuals are called to sign for a government that assassinates its students. Neither does the fact of protesting violently, if it’s true, justify annihilation. The sad thing is that most of these signatories recognize that it’s an error of the Venezuelan government, in the figure of Nicolas Maduro, ordering repression. Those lives have a cost, of course, and those who continue signing from fear or for personal benefit will be recognized by history as being brownnosers, sycophants of the omnipotent power of the Castro brothers.

Génesis Carmona, estudiante y modelo del estado Carabobo, fue asesinada por un disparo  en la cabeza durante una manifestación opositora

Genesis Carmona, a student and model from Carabobo state, was killed by a shot in the head during an opposition demonstration.

For everyone a little piece of history touches us, and consequently we gain merit or demerit.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement, March 2014

Please follow the link and sign the petition to have Angel Santiesteban declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

 Translated by Regina Anavy

S.O.S.: They Continue Harassing Angel Santiesteban in Prison / Angel Santiesteban

My incarceration is not enough for the dictatorship

At dawn on last March 22, we prisoners, once again, were awakened by henchmen’s boots for another search procedure.  Several officers, directed again by Major Cobas, ousted us from the barracks with the intention of distancing us from our belongings. I objected and asked to remain present while they inspected my property which Cobas himself refused. I warned that I was not responsible for what they might find in my absence. The officer persisted in moving me away.

As has always happened, I was the only one of interest although they searched the rest. The majority gathered around my bed searching among books, reading each paper of the many that I posses, and setting aside those they found “interesting,” always news that brings me national and international reality and that generally is far away and different from that of government censors and authorized in their official media. They also read the back covers of the books in order to practice the look of the political police, and as on other occasions, to take them.

In the end, they only confiscated personal documents, printed news, two CDs, one with the images of the false “witness” that the Prosecution prepared against me in complicity with the police and the complainant when they came to demand 54 years in jail for me and later, thanks to those images, they had to desist.  They also took another CD with the sad documentary “Gusanos” which is about the fascist action of the government against State of Sats (Estado de Sats). I suppose that if those officers had the least bit of embarrassment and humanity, they would feel shame.

The alarming thing is that they showed me an instrument that looked like a screwdriver which can be used as a punch and which they claimed to have found within a dark suitcase that I possess. I assured that it did not belong to me, and the officer who said he found it blatantly lied and claimed it was true. A prisoner interrupted to claim that it was his property because he was trying it as a shoemaker’s needle, and he sewed work boots with it; then they left laughing with absolute cynicism.

It is no secret that they are searching desperately to implicate me even more and add some crime in order again, as on prior occasions, to erase the five year maximum sentence as stipulated by the Penal Code. Or a tangible vengeance for the “Second Open Letter to Raul Castro,” which I dedicated this past February 28 on completing a “Year of Unjust Incarceration.”

As always, they are plotting something, and also as always, they will not find in me even an iota of giving in to their constant torture for the “Crime” of thinking “DIFFERENTLY.”

Angle Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement.  March 2014.

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

Translated by mlk.

The Garden of Congratulations / Angel Santiesteban

Interpreting the triptych “The Garden of Delights,” by El Bosco, we can find, ironically speaking, a comparison with the winner of the Frank Kafka 2012 award, “Long is the Night,” by Cuban writer Frank Correa, who delights in telling stories, just like emptying oil paint onto the palette and passing the brush through it so that the paint moves, becomes confused, converting itself into a range of unimaginable colors for the painter himself, who accepts it as a revelation under discovery.

Correa, through his narration, invites us on a journey to discover alongside him impoverished Cuban society. Like a mannequin, he undresses the social reality of a country inhabited by ghosts. His characters live a constant day-to-day agony, a balancing act sensation on the razor’s edge that is tipped by the tiniest of bad things. With fresh and colloquial reading, his more than two hundred pages are read. He plays with ironies, and in moments–like the flash of a camera–the humor hidden in the circumstance appears, an intrinsic part of Cuban idiosyncrasy.

Thanks to the generosity of the organizations of the “International Franz Kafka Prize of Novels from the Drawer” competition, held in the Czech Republic, it was avoided, as the name indicates–novels from the drawer–that this work remains in the dark oblivion of an artist, that it clamors and struggles, for rights of its own, a space in national literature.

The fiction of the novel culminates with my most absolute reality: prison. His character and I intertwine, between fable and reality, invention and nature; our silhouettes cross and skip times, with that protest of wanting to awaken and abandon the dangers of prison, and–with much to write and to invent itself another space–always finish with the caning of the guards against the fence, yelling TO SLEEP!

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. March 2014

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

Translated by LW
17 March 2014

Answering the Requests of Those Who Are Looking for Holes / Angel Santiesteban

Many people ask me to clarify some points that tarnish the credibility of my case and situation. As Internet is the playground of all, we can utter truths, but also otherwise. And every time, after every event, positive or negative, that happens in my life, I have a bunch of people trying to highlight an insidious observation, creating doubt and suggesting, in general, that I’m lying.

Among them, some even tell me that there are people who think I’m imprisoned because of a family dispute. That possibility seems impossible to me since the all evidence of my innocence can be found on the Internet, and nothing, not a single thing, against me.

So how can anyone even suggest that what the government in power says about me is true. I have exposed to public review all my proofs, I proved that I am innocent. On top of that, I made a video of an alleged witness for State Security’s Prosecution and the “plaintiff” against me. I absolute believe that, after seeing this proof, among many others, no one can accept the version of the State against me.

After someone makes a pact with the State, with its political police, and its legal arm, it could appear plausible. I’ve said a thousand times before opening my blog I was [in the eyes of the regime itself] an exemplary citizen, save for my writing which was already, from my start, rebellious.

I was also an exemplary father, and spent more than two and half years lovingly and physically separated from my ex, with whom I have a beloved son.

I have also offered the name of Major Pablo, chief of the sector chiefs of the municipality of Plaza.

In my blog you can read all the irregularities of the trial, it was just a circus, and a month before the sentence was handed down the henchman Camilo announced my sentence to me, with the number of years I would serve. Is he psychic?

It can also be seen in the sentence, after the appeal and review, that I was badly sentenced, but nonetheless they are not interested in amending it. Anywhere in the world, that sentence should be thrown out. And in front of the whole world, I ask for a new trial.

File of Angel Santiesteban’s Case (click to open)

To make matters worse, the journalist Juan Carlos Linares Balmaseda, from Cubanet, interviewed me. They immediately asked how it was possible that he could have access to me. I urge those who have questions to ask the journalist to see how terrified he was, and how he had to escape before finishing so he wouldn’t be arrested. In that interview he took a picture, the one where I am at the end of the unit where they keep me locked up, which adjoins a street and homes. That was the appropriate space to do it.

Under my sentence (five years), I have the right to leave on a pass every sixty days. After eight months in prison, I was awarded the first pass and visited the home of Antonio Rodiles and in the happiness of family, they gave me a cake and me took a portrait.

That day gave rise to more gossip, sowing doubts, saying I was released and just pretending to be a prisoner, and so many stupid things that they don’t deserve mention. Then Aimara Pérez came to Cuba and spent a day visiting my family. I allowed her to photograph me. This prison settlement ends at the end of a street. Then some said I was in the street. At the end there is a Girón bus they keep here, and others said that the picture was taken on a public street. It is like looking for the detail to fit the official version.

I have no doubt that those who are interested in these false details have another interest which is not the freedom of Cuba. It only remains to add that anyone who has any doubts can look for evidence on the internet or can approach me, can find ways to reach me, and after that conversation, then you will be allowed to issue an opinion supported by your own inquiries.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison settlement of Lawton, January 2014

Waking up in a Dictatorship / Angel Santiesteban

From the time I was a kid I discovered that my feelings forced me to show solidarity with the weakest. In sports I wanted to play on the most competitive teams, and today it’s the same. But I’ve always been on the side against the Cuban dictatorship.

In the eighties, when my generation started thinking, we hated the dictatorships in the world, especially those in Latin American; at that time we didn’t understand that Cuba lived under a totalitarian regime.

I still don’t know where my need to express my feelings without worrying about the consequences came from, even if the price is my own life.

The Cuban opposition, if I were asked to express it through a painting, would be a huge tree in a gale of wind raging against its structure, and despite its trunk, sometimes it leans, seeming as if it could touch the ground, and even so, it endures all things, at times the wind carrying away its branches, leaves, fruits, but always, irremediably always, it recovers, and stands to wait and face the next onslaught.

The time remaining without freedom is impossible to predict, but the forces of resistance seem to be sufficient and are multiplying.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison settlement of Lawton. March 2014.

Please sign the petition so that Amnesty International will declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

Marti Theater, Much More Than a Stage Set / Angel Santiesteban

Reopening of the Marti Theater

Since we were kids we dreamed of this space full of magic and history, where a great part of Cuban culture was staged and presented for our enjoyment. Timeless works were presented there: “Cecilia Valdés,” “Amalia Batista,” among others, without forgetting that in this space in 1900 the Constituent Assembly was held, and that a year later Generalissimo Maximo Gomez, surrounded by the great generals, presided over a gala celebrating the victory over Spain and the ultimate decolonization.

For decades we’ve suffered the ruins of that majestic place, in silence imaging the beginning of its functions.

On several occasions I’ve approached it — from outside — penetrating it with my gaze and recreating those sublime figures who represented culture at the height of their era, and those who fought for freeing and shared their lives. The first, learning to be the artists of their time, and joining in the social clamor with a vernacular theater and slapstick comedy, the people saw reflected in those characters their desires. They also recreated society with political satire, that cold irony that made us laugh and think.

The historian Eusebio Leal Spengler recalled the example of the Father of the Nation and founder of the Cuban nation, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes: “In a few days we will remember his great sacrifice. High above the mountains, in a place called San Lorenzo, he gave his life, laying the foundation, the example and at the same time, the bitter lesson that disunity would only postpone the chances of achieving the great objectives.”

Such immense words for that man who agreed to let go of power knowing how much he had done, and he did it, rather than divide our forces. Quietly and immediately he began to prepare the files to give to his successor, and with his hat over his heart, he received him at the entry of his camp. A great man until the last moment of his life.

Would that Fidel Castro had learned that lesson. Today our country wouldn’t be in ruins, like the Marti Theater has been for decades, our families divided. Nor would we have sacrificed so many brilliant lives, nor would the nation be bleeding from its wounds of political repression.

The difference would be a place won for each person. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes will always be remembered for his sacrifice, putting his country before his personal interests. Fidel Castro and his brother Raul will be remembered for the opposite.

Blessed history!

Ángel Santiestaben-Prats

Prison Settlement of Lawton, March 2014

3 March 2014

The Circle of Lazaro Farinas / Angel Santiesteban

I recognize the sin it is to read the Cuban press, but really we should give ourselves the entertainment, in good humor. In these newspapers, we find topics to write stories about, with themes that border on the absurd.

A great character among those that lend themselves to a demented and evil personality, of the worse strain, whom we doubt could have been born of woman, is Lazaro Fariñas, inflator of realities, misinterpreter at his convenience, impossible to explain further as he lives in the United States, from where he criticizes and attempts to convert, or at least make people believe, that Cuba is a paradise. But so lucky is he that his office of satrap and calculator is carried out from the land of freedom, that he could never do otherwise.

In his last article, from 21 January, he raises the alarm with an immense ingenuity not characteristic of him, about the closure of the busiest bridge in the world , the George Washington, which links Manhattan with the city of New York, because of an issue between politicians in that area.

The most laughable part is when he says that Cubans won’t be able to believe it. It was the peak of ecstasy, I laughed myself sick, imagining how they used little children to close one of the busiest streets in Havana, First Avenue and 60th in Miramar, which leads to the National Aquarium, using the children as shields to try to prevent the opposition from holding the First International Conference on Human Rights, which demanded the ratification of the UN Covenants, organized by the independent State of Sats project.

Under the guise of a cultural activity they diverted traffic — and it wasn’t a partial closure like on the George Washington Bridge, but a complete closure to cars and “untrusted” people, not to mention public buses.

When the Ladies in White meet at their headquarters in Neptune Street, before dawn, they don’t allow traffic or pedestrians to reach that street and they  detain dissidents who approach to participate, beating them and taking them to nearby police stations.

How is it possible that this gentleman thinks we Cubans can’t believe something that we experience every week. Our most fundamental rights are violated every day. I’d like to see him on the front page of some newspaper of this country and see him survive on the salary they would pay him!

He does his work without any scruples at all. He dedicates himself to scaring Cubans who don’t walk in his footsteps: do what I say and not what I do. Accept the vineyard of the Lord.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. January 2014