Angelito Santiesteban Does Not Believe Himself the Center of the World / Luis Felipe Rojas

Graphic: Sonia Garro Alfonso, recently freed Lady in White. Collage over a piece by Rolando Pulido.

The writer and blogger Ángel Santiesteban Prats, from the prison where he is serving an unjust sentence, just published–thanks to the help of a friend on Facebook–a brief post expressing his thoughts about the recent releases of political prisoners. As always, Angelito is filled with Light and strength. May my embrace reach him though the faithful reproduction of his text.

Ángel’s post:

I have received the expressions of pain from many friends, my publisher, and my relatives–some stupefied, others offended–over my exclusion from the list of prisoners recently released by the Cuban government.

Upon completing almost two years of unjust imprisonment, I can assure everyone that never have I asked the correctional authories or, even less, the officials from State Security who have visited me, when I will be released. I will never give them that satisfaction, just as I have never inquired whether I will be given the pass* which is granted to all “minimum severity” prisoners like me, who am sentenced to five years. Continue reading

If it were up to them, they’d shoot me / Angel Santiesteban

  • Warning: The regime in Havana has prepared a new legal trap for Ángel.

As is already public knowledge, Ángel Santiesteban has been held in a military border patrol base in Jaimanitas since August 13. He was placed there after several days of detention in the Acosta Police Station, following his surrender after having taken 5 of the 15 pass days that he had accumulated since his incarceration in the Lawton prison.

The night before taking his days, on 20 July, Ángel used his blog to denounce the great rumors circulating about his imminent transfer to the border patrol base for purposes of isolating him. This was after his son had declared, on Miami’s TV Marti on July 15, that as a child he had been manipulated by his mother and State Security to force him to lie and hurt his father. Continue reading

I’m Happy / Angel Santiesteban

Havana, December 30, 2014

Dear Internet users, bloggers, colleagues, friends and Cubans scattered around the world:

Writing you is always an adventure. The constant surveillance is relentless, but perhaps this deepens the desire for communication with the outside and to do so means an unmistakable flavor. After the tensions decrease, and knowing it all came out well, I received the prize for mocking the dictatorship. As a writer, I would be capable of describing my own firing squad, and I would enjoy it, but — in addition to enjoying it — it’s a beautiful obligation that arises from the depths of the being.

I have allies — for now I can only name the closest — some wild cats who don’t allow anyone but me to approach them, to them I have dedicated great love. Slowly they came to accept me as I gained their confidence. They stay close to me, and surround me while I write, I hear their purring, admire the plan to the youngest and the tenderness of their mothers who wash them and love them. When someone barely approaches, the warn me, transmitting the possibility of danger, so I hide what I’m writing. Continue reading

Chiquita: A Brilliant Novel / Angel Santiesteban

by Antonio Orlando Rodriguez   Winner of 2008 Alfaguara Award

The last time State Security allowed me to leave the country was in 2008, to a Book Fair in the Dominican Republic, which I attended as a judge for a literary prize; and from where I returned with my blog “The Children Nobody Wanted.”

But that’s not what I want to talk about in this post, but rather about a novel I discovered on that trip, the winner of the Alfaguara Prize, by Cuban author, Antonio Orlando Rodríguez: Little One (Chiquita); although the magnitude of the novel should indicate that it’s not (so little) since the author tells the story of the immense life of Espiridiona Cenda del Castillo, a Lilliputian who was born in the city of Matanzas one 14th of December, 1869. Continue reading

Santiesteban Protests Against Conditions Of His Confinement / 14ymedio, Lilianne Ruiz

Angle Santiesteban (14ymedio)

Angle Santiesteban (14ymedio)

14ymedio, LILIANNE RUIZ, 7 December 2014 — Writer and journalist Angel Santiesteban continues to be detained, since August, in a border guard military unit located on Primera Street in Miramar. His jailers have announced to him this week that he may be transferred to a location yet to be identified.

The hut where Santiesteban has been incarcerated these months overlooks the street, just opposite the security checkpoint. It measures four by four meters. The prisoner cannot walk, stretch his legs, get sun or interact with other detainees. They only let him out once a week to use the phone and every twenty-one days to receive a two-hour family visit.

Santiesteban is thinner and paler. He relates that last weekend he began a hunger strike to demand better conditions like having the right to get sun, walk and run on the ground as is his custom, to have free access to the telephone like the other prisoners, and to receive visits every 15 days. “After an upset stomach, I refused to take oral rehydration salts and I stopped ingesting food in protest of my conditions of confinement,” he reports.

The writer explains that then two State Security officers told him that they would transmit his claim to the command and give him an answer within a week. They told him that “he has done much damage to the Revolution and that if he had accepted the offer they had made him last August his situation would be different.”

Santiesteban explains that in that month, when he was transferred to the border guard unit, officials from State Security proposed freedom to him in exchange for his leaving the country, which he roundly refused.

Wednesday he dropped the hunger strike pending an answer to his demands. Next April he should be released on parole if the authorities comply with the law which calls for release after the completion of half the sentence. Santiesteban also awaits the response from the Ministry of Justice which accepted the appeal of his case indicating that it admits that irregularities were committed in the trial held against him.

Translated by MLK

The Island of the Long Shadows / Angel Santiesteban

Screen Capture – Moment in which Angel Santiesteban was arrested in front of Section 21, after being violently beat up by agents (8/11/12).

Section 21, as this Department of State Security is known, works to track the political activities of the opposition in the Cuban archipelago.  They are the omnipotent masters of the destinies of those who seek democracy and freedom.

In my case, it was the official Camilo, the same one who on November 8th, 2012, after a beating in plain view of the public, told me that they were putting me in jail for 5 years [before Angel’s trial was concluded].

Three months later, I went to prison, convicted by a rigged jury, where they didn’t show a single bit of evidence against me, except that joke by the lieutenant colonel graphologist, who acted as something like a fortune-teller and said that given “the height and inclination of my handwriting*,” I was guilty. Of no value were the five witnesses I presented who corroborated my statement. Not even justice is an impediment to the designs of the political police.

Since I entered prison, it has been the State Security officials who have manipulated my incarceration. The prison officials have always let me know that “they are there to keep me enclosed,” but that they have no rights over my person.

If I fall ill, whether they are to approve or not the pass** that is provided every sixty days for those serving less than 5 years, transfers, disciplinary measures, or for any other motive, they are to call Section 21 and there they will be instructed as to what is to be done with me.

Of course, it was those authorities in that very same Section 21 who gave the go-ahead for my transfer from the Valle Grande prison to La Lima camp, in keeping with my sentence (as I am not supposed to be in prison); from there to prison #1580 (in a new violation of my rights); later, to the Lawton settlement; and now, to the Guardafronteras (Border Patrol) unit, where I am currently held.

According to the prison officials, they are supposed to consult with the officials of Section 21 at each step in my process. They have retained the appeal of my case, delivered at the Ministry of Justice on July 4, 2013, for more than a year. This is because if justice were to be applied, they would have to release me immediately, as requested by my attorney, given my proven innocence. Instead, they gather an extensive list of flagrant violations that, as my defense attorney at the time said after the trial, left me “in a state of utter defenselessness.”

I have stated before that murderers, drug traffickers, pederasts, and others who have committed grave crimes, are treated with the utmost mercy compared to the stance the authorities have taken toward my person, for they treat me according to the strictest of their laws.

At this time they have me cloistered inside a Border Patrol Troops unit, in a small apartment with two rooms and a bath. It is completely barred and there is a guard at the door who records in a log the hour at which I rise, if I take exercise, if I write, etc.

In addition, this small apartment made into a prison cell includes a patio that, in my honor, was completely enclosed in bars – even on the roof – just hours before they decided to transfer me to this place.

However, even while bearing every suffering that their impediments cause, I feel proud to be treated thus. Not even the worst of their measures against me will cause me to back down from my struggle for a more just country — a country in which free expression against the politics laid down by the powers-that-be will not be cause for imprisonment.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Border Patrol Unit Prison. Havana. October, 2014.

Translator’s notes:

*A handwriting expert literally testified at Angel’s trial that his “too slanted” handwriting proved he was a guilty person.

**In an earlier post Angel explained the Cuban penal system that allows prisoners with shorter sentences to leave prison every so many days for extended (overnight) home visits. He was granted one of these passes when he was in the Lawton Settlement, a work camp, but future passes were withheld. 

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison, and others.

10 November 2014

Sensitive Issues / Angel Santiesteban

Moment at which the Government’s TV show “Cuba’s Reasons” declared Angel Santiesteban Prats “guilty”

In the days when they arrested me, between last July 21 and August 13, among other questions, the State Security officials questioned me about my economic support. In this regard, I’d never imagined that others would be interested in this aspect, but as the Cuban government likes to accuse every opponent of being a mercenary, I’d like to make this public.

Since I’m in prison, my sister María de los Ángeles, who has always supported me, assumed this role, not without pain on my part, because she didn’t send me her excess, not even from reducing her wishes and desires, but from her own sweat, the same sacrifice, because as she likes to say, “I am the poorest person in the United States, but the richest of any Cuban found inside Cuba.” In addition to my sister, I have received help from friends and colleagues with whom I’ve maintained a close friendship since I was a teenager and youth; and also from Masons living in Florida. Continue reading

Solidarity with Miguel Ginarte / Angel Santiesteban

Yesterday (Friday) afternoon, the president of the Diez de Octubre Court declared conclusive the trial against Miguel Ginarte and five other defendants. Just a year ago, Ángel Santiesteban-Prats wrote this post in solidarity with Miguel.

The Editor

My mother always warned me that the Cuban government proceeds through their actions: “When they no longer need you, the squash you like a cockroach”.

In the cultural media, it is well-known that there are very few shows on Cuban TV that do not use Miguel Ginarte to produce their programmes; in fact, very few are those who in the end who are not grateful for his disinterested help, his constant effort, because he takes the care with each show as if it were the final project that he would ever collaborate on. A man who people rarely hear say no, and when he has had to say no it is because it really was beyond his reach to help. Continue reading

Angel Santiesteban Prats: 20 Months of Unjust Imprisonment

Today, 28 October 2014, Angel Santiesteban Prats marks twenty months of unjust incarceration, waiting for the Review of this show trial which condemned him without any proof because he is INNOCENT. His son, being a child and used to testify against his father, has now completely dismantled the farce plotted against Angel and yet they still keep him in prison. His only crime: opposing the dictatorship that has plagued Cuba for more than half a century.

28 October 2014

Blatant Lies / Angel Santiesteban

During the days in which Ángel Santiesteban-Prats’ whereabouts were unknown, and with fears absolutely based on the illegal transfers that he experienced before, we filed a complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances, so they would put it before the Regime in Havana to clarify his whereabouts.

Translation of letter from the High Commissioner’s Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commission:

Dear Mrs. Tabakman,

I have the honor of addressing you in the name of the Working Group on Forced or Involuntary Disappearances with respect to the case of Mr. Ángel Lazaro Santiesteban Prats (case no. 10005155).

In this respect I would like to inform you that the communication sent to the Government of Cuba on July 30, 2014, due to an administrative error, did not include the phrase “Marti TV (Miami, United States)” in place of “Cuban communication media.”

Furthermore, I want you to know that this correction of the case does not affect the decision taken by the Working Group during its 104th session, such as was communicated to you in its letter of September 30, 2014.

I would like to inform you that the Working Group will celebrate its 105th session between March 2-6, 2015, in the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sincerely yours,

Ariel Dulitzky, President-Presenter

They acted with the dedication and speed that an emergency requires, and, of course, the Castro dictatorship did not. They only responded to the Group’s requirement when it gave them the demand; that is, when Ángel already had been located by journalists from 14Ymedio. Thanks to them we knew where he was, although they couldn’t meet with him. The Regime had put him in the border military prison where he presently is. Continue reading

The New Robin Hoods (II) / Angel Santiesteban

Granting the wish of Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, who remains unjustly imprisoned, that his voice is not silenced, and while I await for him to find a way to send me his posts, I will be publishing, starting today, the ones he sent me in the past, as to keep his voice alive in these isolating times that prevent him from publishing in his own blog.

The post I share today was written in May, in the Lawton Prison.

 The Editor

—————————————————————————————

The New Robin Hoods (II)

Last night, after we were locked in our barracks, we heard screams and remained alert. Shortly after, we saw the prison guards running around and calling for the military-on-guard. They had caught a thief who had entered one of the storage rooms that hold construction materials. When he was brought close to a light, we were even more surprised: we soon recognized him as the other military officer who guards the prisoners. He’s not more than twenty years-old.

While being taken, he kept explaining he needed to fix his house, as he was getting married. For this, he would need to divide the space so he could be independent from the rest of the family and start his married life.

We can imagine it was humiliating to him for the prisoners to see him detained and then see him being pushed into the patrol car that would carry him to the police station. One of the inmates joked: “The birds shooting the rifles.”

One more young man who will be added to the thousands waiting in Cuban prisons.

I’m sorry for those who do not understand this, but in the prison cell where they lock in people who rob, not for luxuries, but for necessity, I would instead lock in the politicians, whom I blame for cutting those young lives short and ignoring their most objective needs.

Ironically, it is a sort of luck and a relief for their families to see them in prison, as at least they know they will be alive and they know they can wait for them to return, as opposed to the families of those hopeless ones who venture into the sea risking their life and, in many cases, losing it in the attempt.

Those who live or have lived in Cuba know that the salary here is not enough to live on, not even in the case of the most lauded or brilliant professional.

Inmates assure us that the real ambition of the guard, now locked inside some dark and fetid cell, was—after becoming independent of his family—to buy himself a bicycle.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison. May, 2014.

Ask Amnesty International to declare Cuban dissident Ángel Santiesteban a Prisoner of Conscience

Translated by: T

15 September 2014