It is Better to Run a Risk than to Shut Up / Angel Santiesteban

Correspondence between Toine Heijmans and Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

The renown Dutch writer and journalist, Toine Heijmans, a regular columnist for the national Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, and who sponsored Ángel Santiesteban during his political imprisonment, published the correspondence they maintained during those two and a half years. He has dedicated four pages to it in the prestigious medium. Continue reading

More “Counterrevolutionary” Artists Speak Out For Their Freedom (Part 3) / Angel Santiesteban

Screen capture — A Cuban filmmaker with the black tape of censorship literally covering his mouth.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Havana, 21 December 2015 — In order to complete my personal impression about the G-20* assembly in the Fresa y Chocolate Cultural Film Center this past November 28, I must recognize the solidarity and support of the filmmakers for their colleague, Juan Carlos Cremata, who, through writing, like Enrique Colina among others, showed their disgust and rejection of the assault dealt by the State against the artist, restricting his thinking and his work.

The abuses and injustices committed by the officers and political police have been the last straw for the patience of the unionized filmmakers who — with new verve — have come together with their claims showing that they have matured as people, a society and artists.

The wolf, who for more than half a century has sunk his teeth into the sheep that don’t abide by the rules of the fold, has paused now to wonder why, for the first time, the job of making them submit has been made difficult, and he waits, hoping that they will show some weakness or divide themselves in order to make his job of the bogeyman scaring the children easy.

The dictatorship prefers us to be alone.

I was amazed at the existing cohesion among the constituents of the G-20*, the clarity of their demands, like the Film Law that is indispensable to them in order to continue creating, but, above all, how well disposed they are to continue struggling until they achieve what they demand.

They are not naive, they know that in the eyes of the dictatorship they have been converted into rebels who should be drowned, and if a crack exists, it would be inside one of the columns that integrate the group; and then, beginning with secret conversations with State Security, it would cede before the pressure and would begin to distort, scare, divide and misconstrue the objectives presented from the outset.

Let’s hope that intelligence reigns over fear and serves to save this force that conveys their demands as artists, converts itself into a national necessity and triggers a new pattern in the country’s history.

Their laudable, noble and courageous abilities are the preamble of a new era in which artists recover the dignity that has been lost for more than five decades, letting them be devoured and beaten by the totalitarian Regime for not receiving their punishment.

It is new times, and democracy is the only system possible for any government; now there’s no space for authoritarian regimes (totalitarian) as, for example, Argentina and Venezuela, countries in which the opposition has just won the elections.

Later will come those that are missing, and of course the Castro clan’s dictatorship will have no other option but to cede. With the arrival of freedom, Juan Carlos Cremata and all Cuban artists will recover the cultural spaces that they should not have lost through censorship and prohibitions. Juan Carlos Cremata deserves that space for his talent, strength and commitment.

Let’s hope that without more delay, the Film Law gets approved for the benefit of the seventh art.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Havana, November 2015, under conditional “liberty.”

*Translator’s note: A group of Cuban filmmakers who demand the approval of a Film Law in Cuba. They defend independent production companies. At this meeting they debated censorship and analyzed the case of Juan Carlos Cremata, whose play “The King is Dying” was censored. Cremata was denied the right to stage another play in Cuba.

Translated by Regina Anavy

How to Lose Friends / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, Havana, 23 December 2015 — These days I’m immersed in the culmination of my next novel, which I should deliver in February for its possible publication; for this reason, I have dedicated the last two months, in a tireless way, to improving the prose, born from the heat and emotion of the most recent creation. I’ve barely taken time for cultural recreation, repressing — now that it’s possible — going to the theater, movies, ballet, among other spaces of my personal consumption, after having yearned for it for two and a half years, because the dictatorship that considers thinking differently to be dangerous, especially if it involves an artist, decided to send me to prison.

It’s indisputable — and the reason for this post — that I haven’t been able to visit and comply with the demands of some friends, brother masons and political activists, who would like to see me more frequently. Continue reading

Media Campaign Aims to Discredit Rodiles / Angel Santiesteban

Antonio Rodiles making a statement after his arrest

Angel Santiesteban Prats, 26 December 2015 — State Security is using all the tools in its arsenal to denigrate Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles, who is currently the most uncomfortable thorn in the side of the regime, in the court of national and international public opinion.

Rodiles is one of three organizers of the Forum for Rights and Liberties. In conjunction with the Ladies in White and other human rights organizations, the group promotes peaceful Sunday marches — demonstrations which have been causing great harm to the regime — under the hashtag #TodosMarchamos.

Following mass at St. Rita Church, the group meets — as coincidence would have it — at Gandhi Park, and walks in a peaceful weekly procession along 26th Street to Third Avenue. They do this knowing that what awaits them, Sunday after Sunday, is one of those operations mounted by the repressive forces of the Castro clan to which we have become so accustomed. Fortunately, however, images of every repressive attack are recorded, leaving no doubt as to what is really going on. Continue reading

#Cuba Angel Santiesteban: Is Going to Jail Like Going to War?

Interview with writer Angel Santiesteban

Jorge Ángel Pérez

Jorge Ángel Pérez, HAVANA, Cuba, 23 November 2015 – Angel Santiesteban has authored one of the most outstanding works of our literature. For that, he has received numerous awards in Cuba and abroad. As a young man he won the UNEAC Prize with the book “Dream of a Summer Night,” and then the Alejo Carpentier prize with “The Children Nobody Wanted.” This title also served as the name for his blog, with which he has been expressing himself in recent years. “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn” was also prizewinner with the “Casa de las Americas award.”

After this brief recount, anyone unfamiliar with his work would say he is a “lucky one” but the truth is that he always gets what is most important: the laurel of his readers. Life in prison is one of his recurring themes. Whoever starts reading his texts will discover it from the first line in many of his narrative pieces. It turns out that he was already in jail twice, and in a bunch of police stations. About prison and his work we talk for a long time, in my house, a few days ago. And now, while I transcribe our conversation, I learned that he was nominated by Reporters Without Borders to receive the Citizen Reporter award which was just awarded to a group of Ethiopian bloggers. Continue reading

More Counterrevolutionary (?) Artists Speak up for Their Freedoms (Part I) / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban “on probation,” Havana, 5 December 2015 — On Saturday, November 28th, there was a meeting at the “Fresa y Chocolate” center in Havana, of the Assembly of the G-20 as they have been called, this group of twenty directors of the seventh art — which has the desire and the priority that the dictatorship accept, finally, a Film Law with which they can obtain a space of personal freedom for their art. That is, to be able to conquer creative liberties in favor of independence from the bureaucracy that has, until now, made them in their entirety bow down to the government. For all we know, so far, they have not sent the hit-men to intimidate the “G20”. Continue reading

More Counterrevolutionary (?) Artists Speak Up For Their Freedom (II) / Angel Santiesteban

Eliecer Avila, back right, blue shirt. Screencapture

The latest: the government’s reaction

In the midst of the Assembly of the G-20 (as a group of twenty film directors call themselves), while the filmmakers debated the need for the approval of a Film Act and continued to denounce the hairy hand of censorship with Abel Prieto as its visible creator, as recently happened against Juan Carlos Cremata, a scream alerted that State Security was trying to expel one of those present.

It was Eliecer Avila, who was attending as a member of the general public until he was discovered by an agent of the regime. When the agent entered the room to expel him, he was rebuked by some of those present, although most preferred, as usual, to keep silent, because they knew that he was one of those shadowy figures who swarm cultural institutions and is responsible to pursue, monitor and warn them, and to make them regret their “mistakes” later on. Continue reading

#Cuba, Cubans celebrate the 17th of December. Or do they cry for it? / Angel Santiesteban

For Cubans, as long as I can remember and from the history I learned, December 17th is a sacred day in which St. Lazarus calls his devotees to the shrine at El Rincon, on the outskirts of Havana, to make promises, to thank him for favors received or to ask him for health for next year.

The General-Without-Battles Raul Castro and President Barack Obama decided to make public the resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States — after sealing the deal with the exchange of hostages, three spies of the Group of Five who were in prison for one American hostage accused of spying for the northern country, Alan Gross, and an agent of the Cuban intelligence accused of treason Continue reading

#Cuba Abel Prieto, Interior Minister / Angel Santiesteban

Abel Prieto, 2nd from left, next to Raul Castro, 3rd from left

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Havana, 23 November 2015 — Former Culture Minister Abel Prieto, adviser to the “President” Raul Castro, has distanced himself so much from the realm of Art that today he could be the Minister of Interior since, for several years, he devotes himself to pursue creative sheep who dare to challenge or abandon the sheepfold constructed by the dictatorship to keep artists and intellectuals bowed down.

That friendly editor, devotee of “Lezama’s work,” union-based politician, president of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), Minister of Culture, and finally presidential adviser, has distanced himself so much from the affairs of his colleagues that today, he only responds to the imperatives of the dictatorship. Continue reading

Havana Regime Continues to Violate Human Rights / Angel Santiesteban

The regime in Havana continues to ignore the CIDH (International Commission of Human Rights) and keeps violating human rights.

From Angel’s Editor: As I’ve been doing for 3 years, I make available to readers of the blog “The Children Nobody Wanted” the correspondence I keep with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which is systematically ignored by the Castro dictatorship.

Two-weeks from “celebrating” the first anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, let this be an illustration, one more if possible, of what the regime understands as “reforms” and as “humans rights “. Continue reading

AMIR VALLE: The Early Writer / Angel Santiesteban

Photo courtesy of Amir Valle. From left to right: Amir Valle and Ángel Santiesteban Prats

Angel Santiesteban talks with Amir Valle about personal experiences that marked their lives.

By Ángel Santiesteban Prats, 9 July 2015

Angel Santiesteban: Amir, we are about to celebrate thirty years since the beginning of our friendship, when back in the mid-eighties, at the Alejo Carpentier Center in Havana, they held National Seminar for Young Storywriters, where almost the entire generation then named “Newest” came together.

I made my first attempts at writing stories, when most of the guests had already won first prizes in the literary workshops in their provinces and at a national level as well, I felt myself immersed in a distant and unknown universe, as you will recall I had just been released from prison for not betraying my family in their first attempt to leave the country clandestinely.

What I remember most clearly was my admiration: I looked at them as if they were Nobel prizewinners. We were just introduced, it was like an explosion of affinity, literary interests, feelings. I accepted your friendship with great pride because, at your young age, you were a legend already, the promise you became today. For years you struggled in the most prestigious competitions for our generation. Continue reading

Padura and the Face of Cultural Context / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, 18 November 2015 — On October 31, in the Museo Napoleónico de La Habana, the book, “The Faces of Padura: Work and Life of a Writer, ” a compilation of texts about Leonardo Padura, was presented. Padura was recently awarded the Princesa de Asturias de las Letras Prize.

At the event, Padura shared the thank-you speech that was read in Oviedo before Spain’s royal family; words that should have been published by the Cuban press. But not only did they not publish them, but also in the official media it was completely ignored that for the first time a Cuban writer was given credit for such a prestigious award. Continue reading

“Being in Prison is like walking through the guts of the country”/ Cubanet, Jorge Angel Perez, Angel Santiesteban

The writer Angel Santiesteban Prats (photo: Jorge Angel Perez)

The writer Angel Santiesteban Prats (photo: Jorge Angel Perez)

cubanet square logoCubanet, Jorge Angel Perez, Havana, 23 November 2015 – Angel Santiesteban is the author of one of the most singular works in our literature. He has received multiple recognitions for this in Cuba and abroad. When he was very young he won the UNEAC Prize (from the Writers and Artists Union of Cuba) for his book, “Dream of a Summer Night,” and later the Alejo Carpentier Prize for “The Children Nobody Wanted.” This title also served as the name of his blog, where he has expressed himself in recent years. “Blessed are Those Who Mourn” was distinguished with the Casa de las Americas Prize.

After this brief summary, anyone unfamiliar with his work would say that he is “lucky,” but the larger truth is that he always earns what is most important: laurels from his readers. Life in prison is one of his recurring themes. Whomever starts reading his texts will discover this from the first line of many of his narrative pieces. It turns out that he was in prison twice, and in a ton of police stations. We talked for a long time about prison and his work, a few days ago at my house. And now, while transcribing our conversation, I learned why he was nominated by Reporters Without Borders to receive the Citizen Reporter prize that was just awarded to a group of Ethiopian bloggers.

Jorge Angel Perez (JAP): Angel, there are not many Cuban writers who lived through the hell of prison for two seasons. Did these two stays serve something in your writing?

Angel Santiesteban: Prison has been a rare source of nutrition; relating the events I lived, that I witnessed, has been my armor. Thanks to writing I didn’t lose my head. I think what I experienced intensely in those times gave my writing a great spontaneity. A writer with great imagination could write a great book without being imprisoned, but you can’t deny that someone who was there could tell it with more candor… Continue reading

Declaration on the Cuban Migrant Crisis / Forum for Rights and Freedoms

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Forum for Rights and Freedoms, 23 November 2015 — In recent weeks we have observed, with deep concern, the development of a new migration crisis. The human drama that thousands of Cubans are experiencing already affects the entire Central American region, the Caribbean, and especially Costa Rica, a nation that has received migrants with great solidarity, in contrast to the complicity of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

The Castro regime has decided, once again – we recall the Camarioca exodus in 1965, the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s, the Rafter Crisis in 1994 – to use Cubans as pieces in their political game, putting at risk their lives and safety. Denunciations of abuse, assaults and every kind of crime against Cuban emigrants has elicited the solidarity of all people of goodwill.

Since coming the Castro dictatorship’s coming to power, the regime has used migratory crises to win concessions from the United States. Continue reading

#Cuba SOS: Angel Santiesteban Arrested Again (Updated)

Angel Santiesteban-Prats. Military Prison, Jaimanitas.

Just reported from Havana, that this afternoon Angel has called a relative and has said he was arrested for not having signed the Probation (order) last week and because there is a new accusation upon him.

As we do not have the details, we will wait until he can tell us himself, about his situation to not make room for speculations.

Angel’s Editor

Translated by: Rafael
4 November 2015