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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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

Guillermo Fariñas in center of photo with crutch.

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Open Letter to El Sexto / Angel Santiesteban

“This too shall pass.” Photo courtesy of Lia Vallares

Havana, May 28, 2015

Dear brother in the arts and in the fight, Danilo Maldonado (El Sexto):

I received with joy the news that you were honored for your creative dissent by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) with the important 2015 Vaclav Havel Prize.

I was excited for three reasons: first, you’re a Cuban artist; second, you maintain a dissenting attitude, both in your artwork and your social activism; and third, you find yourself serving an unjust imprisonment.

Photo courtesy of Lia Villares

After several attempts to arrest you, in that stubborn resolve of the dictatorship to silence those of us who express ourselves freely, they did it while you were traveling in a taxi carrying two live pigs, each painted green, on which you had written in red letters two names too important for the repressors: “Fidel” on the body of one and “Raul” on the other. Continue reading

The Indomitable Opposition / Angel Santiesteban

Raul Castro and the Five Spies

I am startled at the idea that the Cuban spies captured in the United States were at one time kept isolated, and that odes are written about this, as if it were an unheard of injustice.

Ariel Sigler, political prisoner released from Cuba, on arrival in Miami

I don’t want to make comparisons, but the five spies were sentenced with proof for crimes of espionage, while Cubans opposing the totalitarian regime are innocent, because exercising the right to a political opinion, a meeting, free association and demonstrating are rights recognized under the Magna Carta of the UN as being fundamental.

Cuban opposition prisoners are incarcerated in dark and dirty dungeons, witnesses to their suffering. They are exposed to constant torture, in some cases while sick – with tuberculosis or dengue fever – from the humidity, the lack of hygiene and the precarious nourishment.

I even remember the five spies complaining because they were served chicken more than once a week in the U.S. prison, while in a Cuban prison that repetition would be a motive for a party. Here in the prisons of the dictatorship, some Fridays, like a holiday, they deliver a quarter of a quarter of a chicken, if you can call it that.

All you had to do was look at the photos of the five spies when they returned to Cuba to understand how they had been treated compared to the penal population on the Island.

In my case, and if I mention it it’s only with the goal of denouncing the dictatorship, they have confined me for nine months in a few square meters, after one and a half years of violating my right — according to the penalty that they unjustly imposed on me — to the same regulation pass they award to assassins, rapists, international drug traffickers and pederasts, among other dangerous criminals. As the opposition independent journalist, Lilianne Ruiz, told me recently, my captors couldn’t tolerate the fact that I had resisted without bowing down to them.

I don’t believe that the nations making up the UN today refuse to support a referendum demanding that Cuba “respect the freedom of the opposition.” Presented like that, very few presidents of the leftist Latin American mafia and others in the rest of the world who second their dictatorships would dare to deny us that right

I repeat — history will show I am right — that President Obama is committing a grave error in strengthening the totalitarian regime, and this will be a stain on his record in the matter of international politics that he will carry with him.

But we are victims of the powers that be, and there is nothing we can do but continue to hope for that democracy, which we will never renounce.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

May 3, 2015

Border Prison Unit, Havana

Translated by Regina Anavy

 

Venezuela, the Same Fate as Cuba / Angel Santiesteban

Venezuelan president and former bus driver Nicolas Maduro showing off his driving skills

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 14 April 2015 — Venezuela’s “Chavista” government with its dictator Nicolas Maduro at the head, continues haranguing people with the same populist momentum as if it were the first day, when in fact it has been in power for over a decade.

Venezuela risks the same fate as Cuba, where — almost sixty years later — they are still asking for the same sacrifice from three generations of victims who — forced or from fear — have pretended to be Revolutionaries and support the Government.

It’s a shame that a country with vast natural resources, today is a battered and devastated economy. Maduro, at the head of the disaster, destroys the country as a likeness of himself, lacking personality, intelligence and common sense.

If he thought driving a country was like steering a bus, he should have understood that they are very different things.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Border Prison Unit, Havana

Homage to Oswaldo Paya / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 17 May 2015 — Any good Cuban should visit the tomb of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, one of the greatest defenders of liberty and justice in the history of Cuba. His name is inscribed, in its own right, in the pantheon of Cuban heroes. I even heard the national intellectuals mention his name with respect, sometimes with fear. They always accepted, even though they were “official,” his intelligence, valor and honesty in his political demands for Cuban citizens. Continue reading