Are Anguish, Bitterness and Loneliness Only Names of Havana Streets? / Angel Santiesteban

A voyage to the end of all things.

By Antonio Correa Iglesias, June 6, 2014

Angustia (Anguish), Amargura (Bitterness) and Soledad (Loneliness) are not only names of Havana streets. They also are discovered feelings that seize and condition that which we call Cuba, the infinite island, which Abilion Estevez and Virgilio Pinera call the fate of being cursed, a portion of earth that floats in the sea, a sea that is the beginning and end of everything, where weightlessness and drifting are forms of keeping afloat.

But the island is also longing and folly, desire and debauchery, hatred for those who have made Cuba a prison of 111,111 square kilometers, as Reinaldo Arenas reminds us in his Leprosorio. The island and its agony accompany us each morning when we prepare coffee, a coffee which reminds us where we came from, and by those smoky silhouettes of a woman we remembered the amazing knitting grandmother who  helped the homesick and the spoiled greet the dawn. How Cuba hurts, and hurts much more when we find in a literary exercise a daily reality like that which Angel Santiesteban Prats describes for us in a clear and visceral voice. Continue reading

The New Robin Hoods (1) / Angel Santiesteban

In a visit to France I was told I was a terrible Cuban because I was abstinent, didn’t smoke, didn’t dance at all, I didn’t even drink coffee, and I only eat fruits. Since then I have assumed it would be more difficult for me to understand others.

A few months ago I wrote a post in which it could be understood that I justified those who are taken as prisoners, because I explained that, according to them, the life of liberty was extremely difficult, and well, in their homes they had to confront the stark reality, and in some commentaries, or perhaps in only one, I commented, with every right, that no crime has a justification, which I reaffirm, of course. This would entail a sanction against Robin Hood, who committed misdeeds, stole from the rich to give to the poor.

Incidentally, none of the prisoners who are in prison with me have robbed particular houses, perhaps because of the poor socioeconomic status in the society, because the majority live with them daily, and the new rich live in protected areas. Neither have they robbed specific businesses, in Cuba there are none, or the few snack bars that exist are of very low income, and those prosperous businesses were also located in zones with major surveillance. Continue reading

Historical Remnants: Julio Sanguily, the Great Traitor / Angel Santiesteban

Men and women make history, later, it is collected by historians, based on documents that serve as evidence of those events.

For which Cuban is it not a point of pride, the rescue carried out by General Ignacio Agramonte he snatched the imprisoned official Julio Sanguily from the Spanish troops, which came to be one of the epic battles — – comparable to those of Ulysses and recorded in The Odyssey — for the waste of courage, noble sentiments, and generosity that could only cause that possible suicide, given the superiority in numbers of the enemy troops?

Nonetheless, it has been approximately 10 years since payments by the Spanish government to their spy, Julio Sanguily have been discovered. It is certain that he was also a spy for the American government and received his price in gold. It is a fact that in various occasions, Julio Sanguily received money and used it for his own personal purposes.

The most hurtful — to my understanding, because I am no historian, only one constant consumer of the investigations of those who are authorized in this subject — was that the money sent by José Martí for the start of the war in 1895, strategized and arranged by the Apostle (as Cubans call Martí), and which Sanguily received, was poorly wasted without helping the revolt. His brother Manuel maintained himself in an upright and consistent position with the fight for the good Cubans.

Despite the great wounds received in combat for Julio, the money was his weakness, or, seeing his body so sacrificed, he decided to exchange sacrifice for pleasure, something that was repeatedly done by a certain type of Cuban throughout history. This reality has also been dealt with with secrecy, although it has already been recorded by some historian, precisely the one who found the documents of the payments in the archives of the peninsula.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison settlement of Lawton. June, 2014.

Please follow the link so Amnesty International may declare Angel Santiesteban, a Cuban political prisoner

Translated by: Bianca Martinez

11 July 2014

The Tribal Unity of the Dissenters / Angel Santiesteban

I want to mention the appearance of laziness inside the Cuban opposition, because — in my opinion — this is what most corrodes our political force and does the lamentable work of the common enemy.

And I’m not even referring to those who must be sprinkled among us doing the terrible and cowardly work of the satraps, but also to that partitioning of ideas and movements, where each one thinks he’s better and more important, and that his work will be most recognized.

I have listened to those who talk about themselves and their work, and — even recognizing their merits — later I have seen how they end up lowering themselves, diminishing themselves as human beings. They leave much to be desired from those feelings that — I take for granted — all fighters for human rights should have.

Comprehension and respect are important to co-exist with others and above all, you know what, not thinking you’re better than anyone else… Just as there are a lot of people who don’t like me… it makes sense to assume that I can’t like a ton of imbeciles… no?

Sometimes, the daring of confronting a regime isn’t sufficient when we ignore common sense and let them impose that mechanism educated in misery that they have imposed on us since birth. Continue reading

Remnants of History: Cubans in the Independence of the United States / Angel Santiesteban

Many Cubans are unaware, although living in the United States, that we were participants in the independence of the Thirteen American Colonies.

When in 1776 the conditions were given for the confrontation with England, commercial relations between Cuban and the North had already reached a mutual development and interest, independent of their cities. In 1764, England cut off commerce with the Spanish and French Antilles which affected thirty distilleries that produced the coveted “Anitillean Rum.”  This was one of the reasons for the separatist movement, recognized by John Adams, second president of the United States.

After that event, Havana became a supplier for the independence army.  A commercial fleet was in charge of bringing resources while in Havana shipyards and arsenals American ships were repaired and mounted with cannon.

Part of the rebel force was made up of Cuban Creoles and brown and moreno battallions. On the Pensacola Site, April of 1781, the Havana forces that had arrived as reinforcement were the first to enter the city. Continue reading

I Would Not Accept Trading My Freedom For That of the Spies / Angel Santiesteban

I hope that President Obama does not have the card up his sleeve to exchange Alan Gross for the three spies who are fulfilling their sentences in the United States. The dictatorship is aiming for that to happen. We all know – by the actions of more than a half-century of totalitarianism – that the régime survives on media circuses, the most remembered of them being the one that concerned the child Elian.

The latest theme that they have chosen was that of the “ZunZuneo”, which sought to raise dust in front of the calamities and the strict censorship in a country that is sinking but — incredibly — without even touching bottom, precisely, thanks to those life with those who manipulate the media of the Fourth Estate.

Fidel Castro, Champion of Disinformation

The Castro brothers, wise in foreign policy in terms of deception, blackmail and economic vampirism, understood – ever since the trial against began in Miami of the agents of Cuban Security – that they would have a cause, a slogan and entertainment for a while. Fidel Castro, invariably, has been the champion of disinformation, always making a defeat seem like a victory; that is what he has been doing since he failed in the attack on the Moncada Barracks.

Since his last lights and years in Government, he planned this blackmail of the United States. He tried also with the imprisonment of 75 dissidents, which later was called the “Black Spring” and paid a high price for it with the attitude taken by the European Community and its “Common Position”.

Alan Gross, hunted rabbit

Cuban State Security waited a long time for an opportunity to seize an American spy who had no diplomatic rank, and seeing that it was not going to happen, manufactured one, as suits its political ability.

The Obama government has not recognized the contractor Alan Gross as a spy for his country, although, on humanitarian grounds such as his age and state of health, it has asked Havana to release him.

Of course, Cuba has played all the cards, because if their prey were to die for whatever reasons, it would create a conflict of major proportions. But the Castros needed a victory to result, especially if it concerns their historic enemy, and so, winding the watch of their power and extending it for a while longer.

To top it off, as if it had to do with cattle, and seeing that a single hostage is not enough incentive, the political police has seen fit to apprehend four residents of Miami on serious allegations of terrorism, as a desperate gesture to undermine influences and press for the exchange.

Media campaigns that are bleeding us dry

One day it will be known the economic amount the media campaigns of Fidel Castro cost, but only the campaigns of the child Elian and the Five Spies have deeply bled the Cuban economy.

To maintain committees in dozens of countries, and elderly people paid at the service of the political police of the Island, they constitute an army that not even a prosperous state would be able to afford.

The paid publications in newspapers of great importance, the billboards along the highways — even in Miami itself — the payment for lawyers and constant travel of relatives around the globe, are only some of the costs of the infinite list that the Cuban citizen pays.

An exchange would be a setback for the United States

If President Obama, in the two years remaining to him, exchanges the spies for a maligned civilian, it would harm the Cuban vote, so important in Florida, and would lose that place for the candidate of his party.

In addition, Hillary Clinton just acknowledged — in her book of memoirs — that “she advised Obama to ease the embargo”, by which it can be inferred that she is willing to exchange them, which would be a major setback for the United States in terms of its position in defense of human rights in the Island, even more so, because these spies are related to bloody deeds — such as the shooting down of the small plane of the “Brothers to the Rescue” (Hermanos al Rescate) — and it would be a Pyrrhic victory with regard to policy, for their inhuman actions.

They should be incarcerated and with long sentences – the three who are left — should it be exclusively pride of Fidel Castro, who did not hesitate to expose his men in “enemy” territory. It was he who slaughtered and betrayed them.

An exchange would stain Gross

If the U.S. Government has maintained until today that Gross is not an agent, exchanging him would be a deadly act, first, because it would be recognizing him as such, after several years of ordeal as a hostage; second, it would be to accept that they have sacrificed it for nothing, because they could have exchanged him from the beginning; by the way, it would strengthen the Cuban dictatorship, and would weaken the effort for human rights that the American administrations have pursued for decades.

And lastly, by carrying out an exchange, it would pass into history as an act of cowardice by, a high cost that perhaps he is not willing to pay. To exchange a civilian for spies sentenced because of acts of blood, is to muddy Alan Gross, As the US President, maybe he is willing to pay that price, not exactly as a fighter for liberty, which does not at all have to do with the exchange of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo, as a result of the war against Taliban extremists.

In my case in particular, as a civilian, artist and civil rights activist, I would prefer to die in Cuban jails before being so stained by history, by the simple and reasonable fact that I am innocent, as corroborated by my evidence, as should be Alan Gross, as has government has said so far.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. June 2014.

7 July 2014

Response to my Blog Readers / Angel Santiesteban

Messages come to my blog mail, some elegant with congratulations for “my upright position” before the dictatorship; others, interested in my health, like this one that I answer in which they ask questions because they don’t understand why I’m in prison, then recognize that sometimes there are contradictions. And of course, this happens so much that I thought I needed to answer. With the most possible brevity, I’ll try to answer many questions in one single answer: this post.

Everything that is sanctioned in Cuba with a maximum sentence of five years is recognized as a “minimum severity” conviction. There are three types of sentences: “maximum”, “medium” and “minimal severity”. As my punishment was for five years, according to the present laws for prisoners condemned for “minimal severity”, they had to place me in a settlement.

The prisoners of “prioritized” character (meaning the most dangerous, condemned for murder, trafficking of people or drugs, economic crimes, rape, pederasty, etc.) are always sent to prisons. Continue reading

Opportunistic Foreigners Who Suck the Dictatorship’s Tit: Alessandra Riccio, the Most Castroite of All the Neapolitans / Angel Santiesteban

Alessandra Riccio, a Neapolitan who resides in Cuba, knew how to live, like so many leftist foreigners, from the benefits that the totalitarian regime offered them. I don’t know if she came to be one more of the secret collaborators of State Security, captured by Commander Manuel Pineiro “Red Beard,” of course, dead in suspicious circumstances at a time when that death was very convenient for the Castro brothers, because with his secrets as Fidel’s private scribe he could sink them before international justice.

What is certain is that the lady in question has written a book about her memories of Cuba, at least those that she can or they permit her to tell, because if she tells some others she would be catalogued as a traitor by those who helped her out for so many years on the island. Continue reading

Another Day Without His Children / Angel Santiesteban

Angel saying goodbye to his son in the police car taking him to prison

Today is the second Father’s Day that two teenagers will spend without their dad, like many; they will throw him a kiss through the bars of the Lawton prison settlement, if the strict vigilance that the dictator dedicated to Angel Santiesteban doesn’t prevent it.

Three guards and some officials, just for him, watch him constantly. This “common inmate” must be very important to make the Cuban people pay for such “guarding.” Every official costs more than a thousand pesos, and there are three trios taking it in turn over 24 hours, generation a cost of more than seven thousand pesos a month, plus the gasoline for their transportation, and that of the bosses who come daily to check in person how the guarding of Angel is going.

Also today, there are many dads who will miss the warm kiss of their children, from the capricious vengeance of a dictator who violently represses and imprisons all those who fight peacefully for freedom.

Ramón Muñoz, Alan Gross, Jorge Cervantes, just to mention some of the many political prisoners of the Castro dictatorship, will, like Angel, spend another day without their children and many of them will spend the day without their parents.

Raul Castro with his family

The dictator brothers will celebrate — with their children and grandchildren — gobbling and drinking with no limits everything forbidden to Cubans, while pretending to the world to be everything they aren’t, laughing at the thousands of families separated by the distance of exile for over half a century.

The mother of his child, along with the Political Police, managed to imprison him on false charges, all of which accusations were not proven, not the guilt of her ex-husband — she never proved that anything happened — rather her own guilt was proved because a false accusation is a crime and harms the reputation of another person. But the mother of his son didn’t manage to turn her son against his father; he is as attached to him as ever. Angel will receive the kiss that his son blows him from a distance, a kiss that will deservedly caress his heart, because for Angel Father’s Day is every day, and his children show how incredibly proud they are of him.

I lost my father many years ago and the best way I can honor him is to live the ethical teachings and principles he passed on to me. I know that he — wherever he is — is proud that I am doing what I’m doing for Angel.

The Editor

Sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

15 June 2014

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. Continue reading

Lilo, An Artist Who Fed Himself From Misery / Angel Santiesteban

Lilo Vilaplana

When I began working in Cuban television, in the second half of the eighties of the past century, the first person they introduced me to was Lilo Vilaplana. He was already a star Assistant Director and they assigned him to teach me, in practice, his expertise.

We immediately became good friends, and friendship flowered as if an elf had taken us by the hand. I joined the post-production of a children’s series directed by Roberto Villar, and we would begin to produce an adventure fantasy written by the brilliant writer Daina Chaviano.

In the serial edition, we could see from our booth how they accommodated the trial of the Number One Cause of General Arnaldo Ochoa. I remember that our editor was famous for being one of the best in the trade, and he recognized that the soldier who was doing it in the other booth was excellent.

Continue reading

Being In Prison is Worth It / Angel Santiesteban

Cartoon by Garrincha: 

“Excuse me, but we have a writer who they say beat his wife. Of course there is talk about him.”

“Dude, do I look like a marriage counselor or something?”

“It’s just that this writer is a dissident, you know?”

“Where is that abuser?!”

Seated in the door of my cabaña, many people ask me if it’s worth being a prisoner, and without doubt I say yes.

Here inside I see the internal and profound face of a society submerged in the horror of survival. Furthermore, it permits me to do a unique sociological study; it’s an exceptional experience. Seen in this way the suffering of confinement doesn’t hurt. To this I add the use of time spent in reading and writing.

I am sure that with my imprisonment the government, and particularly the Castro brothers, are the ones who have been harmed the most, because they left in evidence the credibility of the “reforms” that they wish to sell. They showed how they try to deceive the world in order to obtain financing for the ruined Cuban economy. Continue reading