The Next Day / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 2 May 2016 — The owner of the media owns the country as well: This phrase is corroborated daily here in our “captive island.” We must make an extraordinary effort to follow radio and television newscasts, and to try to interpret the other side of the news. It is really an insult to the intelligence, the repetitive crass way of manipulating information they exercise.

Of course, a large part of the population stay away from it “not to complicate their life” but the saddest thing is that, when faced with cameras and microphones of reporters on the streets, fear paralyzes them and unscrupulously, they lie to “caress the official ears” and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately this is a comfortable attitude, lacking of civility and within their inner circles, usually express themselves critically against the regime. Continue reading “The Next Day / Rebeca Monzo”

Every year on May 1st, meek like frightened lambs, they will act like professional simulators, smiling when facing the cameras, showing off a false joy and support for the regime and its “eternal leader,” an attitude that will change drastically when at the end of the parade, back at home, they meet with an empty refrigerator and begin to rummage through their meager pockets, looking for some coins in CUC (hard currency) to buy a bag of milk powder in the “black market” to ensure a glass of milk for next morning, for their children (if they are still in Cuba) or for their elderly parents , aware that the present is slipping through their hands, in a country WITH NO FUTURE.

Translated by: Rafael

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

Jorge Ángel Pérez

Jorge Ángel Pérez: Angel, not many Cuban writers have lived through the hell of prison for two terms. Were they useful for the writer those two stays?

Angel Santiesteban: Prison has been a rare source of “food”, describing the events I experienced, what I witnessed, turns out to be my armor. Thanks to writing I did not lose my head. I think living intensely those instants gave my writing great spontaneity. A writer of great imagination can write a great book without the need to be locked up, but we cannot deny that anyone who was there will tell it more openly …

Jorge Ángel Pérez: This is proved by your books and “Men Without Women”, by Montenegro

Angel Santiesteban: I think so. Being in prison helped me have the spontaneity and sincerity required in literature. That openness will always remain. That is why as I walked those two times to that hell, I thought of the stories I could find, how would they serve my work. To think that I was in search of material to write saved me, it made less harsh those stay.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: Finding those stories …

Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban: I found them there and they were the ones that saved me. Going to jail is like going to war. The prisoner and the soldier have much in common. The two are away from home. The two are withdrawn. Both have sexual desires they cannot fulfill. The two are under military control and that can be abusive and impose itself, often in a humiliating manner. Every day you are in danger of losing your life; in prison by the hands of a criminal and in war the enemy can kill you.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: While there you found stories that would serve you later, but the truth is you did not go voluntarily to rummage in jail and in prisoners’ behavior.

Angel Santiesteban: I went because I was led, bound. The last time I went to jail because I believed, and still believe, I could do something for my country to be better, to make it democratic. Fidel once said that a better world was possible, and I went to seek a better world, to look for that better Cuba. That cost me jail. Because I wanted to get that world I began in my house, in this country that I love. My literary teachers had told me that the important thing was to write, it was my work I should look after, the first thing was to write, and publish, get readers. Write, write and write. Many friends, and those teachers, they thought a writer does not have to do anything else.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: And don’t you think so?

Angel Santiesteban: No, I don’t think so. That’s a lie, although I believed it for many years. For a long time I devoted myself only to writing. I put together my work, I published books and keep quiet …because of fear.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: And where did you leave that fear?

Angel Santiesteban: It is still with me. It never left, but I learned to accommodate it. It never forsakes me the fear of going to jail. There you can die in an instant, and that’s terrible. Fear comes when I think that I can not be with my children and with my family at the moment they need me the most. Imagining that moment impress me a lot. It scares me to think of the possibility of they getting sick and  can not help them. My daughter did not attend college when I was arrested the last time and that made me feel responsible.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: And who was responsible?

Angel Santiesteban: Viewed in a simply way it should be me, but the real blame lies with those who arrested me. It was the unjust detention what distressed me. It was the possibility that her father went to jail again that made her sad, because of that she decided not to go to the classroom, because of that she missed the class, because of that she will have to justify her absence.

I imagine how many times she thought she would have to go back to visit the prison to accompany her father in his confinement. Who are the real culprits for her distress? Is it me? It makes me very happy she studies. I want her to graduate, and nourish her desire to study, but a young student will not feel very comfortable in a classroom knowing her father is imprisoned unjustly.

It was also distressing when I saw them coming to the prison. Seeing seventeen or eighteen kids visiting an inmate is not comforting. My first confinement had to do with my accompanying my family to the shore line when they wanted to leave the country for good. I ended up in prison, but I had no children. The last time they were grown already and they studied.

Their father was arrested for going around seeking democracy. And they knew what that could cost me.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: What is democracy for you?

Angel Santiesteban: Speaking my mind out loud and that nobody bothers me. Saying what I want and that everyone understands that this right exists and it pertain to all of us, that everyone understands that there are different ideas the ones professed by our rulers. Is it so difficult to understand that? I think it’s good to talk, and that the differences you have with those in power do not take you to jail. That’s democracy for me.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: And are you willing to talk to get this democracy?

Angel Santiesteban: Of course, that what this is all about. I can talk to a Communist if he is able to listen to me respectfully, if he allows me to act according to my principles. I have that right, although they take it from me I know I have it. I can also talk with a liberal. I can converse with those in power and those who oppose to them even though we don’t agree on everything. I wouldn’t talk to those fomenting terrorism. In that table I want to defend my right to express myself. If I have a political activity now is because I intend to find that democracy where everyone can live in, even with their differences. I would love it if in the future someone talks about me, that if I am just mentioned in one line , that’s what they say about me.

Jorge Ángel Pérez:  And about your writing?

Angel Santiesteban: I prefer it is talk before the effort I put into getting the dialogue, about my dreams of democracy, it must say that I faced those who would not let me express myself. That I want, and it must be said very briefly in just one line.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: Just recently you were arrested in a police station. Why?

Angel Santiesteban: All  I can say will be a speculation, everything would be an assumption. I don’t have the truth. I think it was something more than a threat, they intended to revoke my probation, which would take me back to jail.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: Why do you think that?

Angel Santiesteban: I was told there was a complaint from my ex-wife, the mother of my son. They showed it to me and I recognized her signature, but she told our son she had not accused me. They could forge her signature to intimidate me. I haven’t seen her in a long time, so there was not such a threat, but then (freelance journalist) Maria Matienzo went to the police station inquiring about me, and she was told I was imprisoned for armed robbery, however (Antonio) Rodiles was told the same thing they said to me; that I broke into the home of the mother of my child.

They never agreed among themselves to give the reasons for the arrest. I believe, and this remains an assumption, that it all had to do with a text I wrote the day before being arrested denouncing the imprisonment of Lamberto Hernandez Planas, where I commented on his hunger strike, the risks for his health, and I also demanded his immediate release.

Everything has to do with my political activities, my opposition. I did not threaten anyone and much less committed an armed robbery.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: What happened afterward?

Angel Santiesteban: Afterwards my son tells me that his mother had not accused me, certainly the ones who had arrested me knew, they stopped showing the alleged accusation of my ex. The next day I was taken to the provincial court. When we arrived, the police officers accompanying me wanted to know in which room the trial would be held and someone said to take me to an office. There the president of the court was waiting for me and told me that my freedom had been revoked. There was a brief silence and then she continued. She said that despite the revocation order she would set me free, and suggested that I behave, that I should behave.

Jorge Ángel Pérez: And do you think you could go to prison again?

Angel Santiesteban: Maybe, but I hope the excuse to be less dubious that the one that took me to jail last time. If they were less awkward they should send me, if there was a next time, on a fellowship in Paris or Berlin. Never to jail. That’s the worst thing you can do with a writer. Can you imagine what you could write there?

Jorge Ángel Pérez: I do not want to imagine it, it frightens me.

Angel Santiesteban: A writer will write everything he sees, everything will serve him. A criminal will hear the stories of others and perhaps they will serve him for the next wrongdoing, but a writer will analyze every detail, every gesture, every story, and then he will not be able to resist, he will write, and people will read it, people will find out what happens there.

Being in prison is like walking through the bowels of the country. Imagine that reader when reading those rotten descriptions. Everything I saw nourish that desire to write, to publish in my blog, to write stories, to do what I think is best for my country. There I wrote a lot. I wrote stories, from that stay in jail came out a novel. From the stories they told me during those hours I spent at the police station could emerge many narrative pieces. And there’s also my blog. From there I will continue telling, without stopping, without them get me to stop.

Published in Cubanet

 Translated by: Rafael

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 Freedoms (Part I) / Angel Santiesteban”

Although the Government has not yet presented its real face — because of the scandal that would arise when dealing with internationally recognized filmmakers — it is possible that they are cooking up something against this group so difficult to re-educate. So far they pretend to ignore them, perhaps betting they’ll wear themselves out.

The firefighter that the dictatorship has used in the past twenty years for these acts of insurrection, is the well-known Abel Prieto, who served once as President of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), then as Minister of Culture, and today, as tyrant Raul Castro’sAdviser.

But  they have worn out this character Prieto to such an extent that a large percentage of artists do not believe his words anymore and consider him a kind of Cardinal Richelieu, creator of intrigues and persecutions against those who do not abide by his directive. It is clear, there is no other character that could dialogue with this group of artists, so it would not be surprising that at some point he wears the “matador suit” and must enter the ring to face the bulls.

Public censorship in the UNEAC Congress

But returning the purpose of this writing, I should describe the events of the last meeting of the G-20, admitting in advance that the filmmakers are hostage to the so-called “Revolution” whose makers became dictatorship figures almost from the beginning. The totalitarian system maintains a tight grip on artistic production, maintaining an exhaustive and constant eye on this genre that attracts such a large audience; and because as the government knows what is at stake if it accepts granting them “independence”, it refuses to untie their hands and minds, preventing them from doing and undoing what they please with their art, because they know that soon, it would bring discredit, criticism and ridicule from art, without their being able to act against them.

The  most direct and effective effort so far, has been the attempt to expose and demand a debate at last congress of the UNEAC, when the filmmaker Rebeca Chávez proposed opening the subject and the sinister official Abel Prieto acted as a censor in the most violent and despotic way imaginable, and radically prevented the director from presenting the needs filmmakers have today.

This “Cain” in disguise as Abel, feverish for power has become today the most intransigent cop, and the more fanatical persecutor of those creators who dare to raise discrepancies with the cultural power or political power, and all this when he should be the bridge between artists and the government instead.

The functionaries commit censorship and fraud

The vast majority of those attending the Congress were offended by that political official’s outburst, from a man who was once a colleague, someone who pondered, defended and represented art in general, but the more power he has gained in the Nomenklatura the more he has been betraying the principles of commitment to genuine art. Understand that, “delegates” chosen in the congresses of the guild, are, mostly, the most “committed”,  those who, having passed through the scrutiny, and so they were unable to rebel against official orders — although they were the most unfair — and in the most disciplined of fears they remain quiet before the abuses and injustices of the dictatorship.

Film directors demand the censors show their faces

At the Assembly on the 28th of November, a fraud perpetrated in the election of the authorities of this congress was exposed, as those who got the most votes from the artists, were later replaced by the docile ones, whom they exchanged for the chosen ones in order to take to that meeting the most submissive and manipulated to lift their arms in favor of the government and, ultimately, to refuse these spaces of freedom that urge the artist and the times they live in. Replacing elected ones by the meek ones has been a common practice for years; and in some post I stated that I witnessed these frauds, where Abel Prieto pointed his finger at those who had showed him such pusillanimous attitudes.

The filmmakers, dissatisfied with the government’s attitude and its envoy Abel Prieto, decided to continue gathering to achieve their aspiration, approval of a long-awaited Film Law. And in that sense Gustavo Arcos was very specific, talking about movies currently censored by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), also raising concerns about the state of the national cinema, and calling for the discussion to be sustained with the counterparty which denies the Film Law.

He recalled the times that Fidel Castro met with the filmmakers “to save the cinema” and that — since the ancient dictator is no longer in power — that interlocutor who, without revealing his face, denied the necessary Film Law from the shadows should be sought, including Raul Castro, Diaz Canel and, according to some of those present, Alfonsito Borges, that grim and mediocre “administrator” of the culture who has done so much harm, and now serves as ideologist of the Party Central Committee, and demand that he answer why he considers that the Cuban films that are censored are also “counterrevolutionary” and to explain “where, how and why these films are against the Revolution, and have a dialogue with the decision makers and probably those considered counterrevolutionary: Alfonsito Borges, and I do not know the others (…).

As for me, I feel that the filmmakers have been too patient, waiting for the routine, when a plan B with stronger actions should have been in place, because that is the only way that things in this country will evidently be resolved, by forcing a discussion. I do not know how much Raul really knows about all this because I am very surprised that Abel Prieto himself, who is his adviser, opposed or at least slowed down, keeping his cards close to his chest, right there at the congress of the UNEAC, the so-called Film Law.”

And in full assembly state security appears imposing their terror (to be continued).

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Translated by: Rafael

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

Everyone in the room stood up and approached the door where the official from ICAIC (Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry) and the agent of the State Security pressured Eliecer to leave the room, telling him that his presence stained what they were trying to build there.

Eliezer said he did not understand their attitude as he stayed quietly in the audience and had not even spoken about what was discussed there. The “segurosito” –little security guy — (he  wasn’t even five feet tall) responded publicly that he (Eliezer) was a counterrevolutionary and offended them with his presence at that cultural space. Eliezer defended himself saying that he was a revolutionary; his wife supported him, saying that “they were revolutionaries.”

By that time, I had managed to approach and I said it was me who was not “revolutionary”, so before removing Eliezer they would have to remove me. Many filmmakers were amazed at the impudence with which the censor appeared before them as they debated how to end censorship. Freelance journalist Luz Escobar, berated him to read his name and the position he occupied in the ICAIC, to which he replied, “Everyone here knows me.”

Finally, Eliecer, despite assuring he was revolutionary, which didn’t matter to either the “seguroso” nor the ICAIC-official, refused to leave the room and the meeting continued with those present on their feet. They agreed, through voting, try to reach a bridge of dialogue with the pertinent state authorities.

It is unfortunate that once again they usurp spaces from artists, because only they had the right to ask Eliezer to withdraw from the room if they felt he should not be present. I guess State Security will demand that the next Assembly of the G-20 will take place behind closed doors.

However, looking at the gains from these troubled waters, I think that the presence of independent journalists has alerted the dictatorship to an understanding that the issue of the filmmakers is getting out of hand and becoming international news, and although their media prohibit publishing that information, they can not prevent us, independent bloggers, from doing it.

Hopefully our presence there has forced the dictatorship to accept that they must negotiate with the G-20 to restore what belongs to them in their own right: freedom of creation, something that never should have been seized with the justification of making a  “revolutionary” cinema.

I thought I had finished recounting the events at the Assembly, but something told me I should wait; we could expect some reaction after that altercation. And this December 3rd, TV reported a meeting of the plenary of the UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba), led by the government firefighter Abel Prieto, where they pledged to “not allow artists and their spaces to converge with the counterrevolutionaries”.

Abel Prieto and Raul Castro

It was the stubbornness I expected from State Security, the Communist Party and the leadership of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba; the coherent response of the dictatorship to a dilemma that is getting out of hand.

I am sure that this time the “counterrevolution” which is how they call us, the ones who are fighting peacefully for freedom and democracy, will push for the necessary dialogue between filmmakers and dictatorship to finally take place.

Last minute phone call

I received an anonymous call from a “concerned” person about my likely attendance at the inauguration of the New Latin American Film Festival.

Angel: Hello, -I said.

-Unknown: Santiesteban?

Angel: Yes, speaking.

-Unknown: I am calling to give you advice -says the enigmatic character

Angel: -Ok, I am listening – I insist.

Unknown: -Just to tell you, you will not be welcome at the opening of the Film Festival.

Angel:-That does not sound like an advice, is seems more like a threat.

Unknown:-Take it as you want, but don’t regret it later.

Angel:-I will be present anywhere I please -I say upset.

Unknown:-Do not think that we will again allow you to interfere with your presence as you did at the “Fresa and Chocolate” meeting room. We do not want you at the Karl Marx Theater, neither at the opening nor at the closing.

Angel:-Well, you do your part that I will do mine. -and I hung up.

I did not want to go anyway, but it mortifies me they want to manipulate their instruments of fear.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Havana, “on probation”

Translated by: Rafael
17 December 2015

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

— in such an important date for Cubans, and that way, tarnished the tradition, because even for the more pagan or “communist”, on this day they light a candle asking for health and prosperity for their people.

Since last year, along with the tradition there is the fatal remembrance of an agreement that brought neither prosperity nor a decent opening that shows any willingness from the dictatorship to respect human rights and move the country towards a prosperous and democratic future. It has only been observed by the US President; docility and patience, like the stability of his country would depend on that diplomatic exchange.

This year, when the day of the first anniversary of the agreements comes, we Cubans must light two candles: one for our St. Lazarus and one for the funeral of that presidential pact. The only thing that has been brought by the opening of embassies, is a new stampede of Cubans fleeing their homeland and it far exceeds that of the 1994 Rafter Crisis.

The talks between the two governments eventually convinced people that the only thing to expect is more instability and economic strengthening of the totalitarian regime. The pilgrimage of Cubans throughout Latin America is overwhelming. The latest scandal of the islanders still remains unresolved in Costa Rica; there was a bottleneck with thousands of people stranded in emergency camps because of Nicaragua’s refusal to let them pass through, preventing them from reaching the United States. We could not expect less from President Daniel Ortega, disciple of the Cuban dictatorship.

The Castro mob likes to steal important dates of national traditions. As if was not enough usurping Christmas, banning it, and noting as “counterrevolutionaries” those celebrating it, they chose January 1st as the starting date of the so-called Revolution, that is, the dictatorship disguised as populism, plunged us into the most extreme misery of all and led millions of Cubans to emigrate. Now, they desecrated December 17th, a holy day of a saint who always annoyed them because of the huge number of devotees he has.

Translated by: Rafael
18 December 2015

#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 “#Cuba Abel Prieto, Interior Minister / Angel Santiesteban”

How can he forget the persecution launched against intellectual Antonio José Ponte, who he personally accused publicly, expelled him from the UNEAC and shut the doors in the culture area, to the point of making him leave a meeting of writers. Ponte’s being abroad today, it is largely due to him.

The same thing happened with the writer Amir Valle: he also suffered Abel’s harassment and his name could not be pronounced in his presence. He ordered him to be excluded from all cultural events in the country. Amir also thanks Abel — largely or absolutely –for prohibiting his entry to the country upon his return from Madrid, where he traveled in 2005 to present a novel.

Recently, Abel Prieto aggressively challenged the filmmaker Rebeca Chávez during the last congress of the UNEAC, when she and some directors wanted a film law to be approved, that benefits the filmmakers and cinematographic arts in general.

He did not even care that the lady in question has supported the dictatorship for decades; nor that she was the wife of writer Senel Paz, a prestigious intellectual, and back then a UNEAC official — afterward he resigned from UNEAC —  a generational comrade and, as far as is known, his friend.

For most attendees, the aggressiveness and lack of chivalry of Abel Prieto, who completely lost his marbles, uncovered his true character and commitment to the system, turning away from the cultural issues and artists.

From left to right: Former Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz and Abel Prieto former Minister of Culture — photo taken many years ago

In my case, he also did his part: he organized that “spontaneous” campaign to collect signatures against me among the women of the UNEAC. Alleging gender violence, they put me as a paradigm of the perpetrator knowing I was innocent, but simultaneously — this is the most painful — they became accomplices of state violence against the Ladies in White (Women for Human Rights), who systematically and publicly are subject to beatings every Sunday after Mass in the church of Santa Rita. The same attitude assumed when actress and human rights activist, Ana Luisa Rubio, faced a mob that responded to the State Security and disfigured her face in a beating.

From left to right: Current Cuban President General Raul Castro Ruz and Abel Prieto, advisor to the president (old photo)

Abel Prieto, in the presence of other artists said that I would serve the five years in prison to which I had been sentenced. Then, when on April 2015, when the deadline was met, I was denied the Probation I was entitled to, I knew he was not lying, that of being Adviser to the President was not mere investiture.

For many years, that jocose intellectual who betrayed his colleagues was assuming the role of a district chief of police. He was mutating to become another Papito Serguera in the era of Pavonato. In fact, he is a role model if you want to be boosted by the dictatorship. It may be true that saying: “When people get used to power, they do not know how to live without it, and to remain there, they accept the meanness and most desperate and deep contradictions.”

There he is for the dictator. Then he can be used for what he already is: a recruit of the Interior Ministry

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Havana, 20th of November, “on probation”.

 Translated by: Rafael

23 November 2015

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 “Havana Regime Continues to Violate Human Rights / Angel Santiesteban”

The delay with which I published them, is because, just yesterday, December 2, 2015, I received the documents dated September 16, 2015.

It is important, although Angel Santiesteban has the appropriate precautionary measures and his case is constantly monitored by the CIDH, on 5th of November last year he was the subject of a new arbitrary detention for 24 hours; he was subjected to a summary trial in which he his Probation was revoked and right after, “it was reversed again”, in what became the final chapter in this “Kafkaesque process.”

Of course, the decision of the retrial continues in a limbo. What will be waiting for Mr. Dictator?

Angel’s editor

Translated by: Rafael
3 December 2015

#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

SOS: Angel Santiesteban Arrested

A few minutes ago I received a call from a relative of Angel Santiesteban-Prats to inform me that at noon Angel was arrested again. Upon contact with his family, they still did not know why he was arrested and what he is accused of.

He said he would call later in the afternoon and still they have no news of him.

We imagine that it is a reprisal from Castro’s regime for having denounced the life-threatening danger political prisoner Lamberto Hernández Planas is in, on hunger strike, for having been the victim of a new maneuver by the State Security to revoke his parole and prevent his work as an independent journalist.

Once again, as usual for almost three years now, we hold the dictator Raul Castro responsible for the life and integrity of Angel Santiesteban-Prats.

As soon I have news, I will keep updating.

Thanks for passing this on.

Angel’s Editor

Translated by: Rafael

4 November 2015

SOS: Angel Santiesteban Arrested

A few minutes ago I received a call from a relative of Angel Santiesteban-Prats to inform me that at noon Angel was arrested again. Upon contact with his family, they still did not know why he was arrested and what he is accused of.

He said he would call later in the afternoon and still they have no news of him.

We imagine that it is a reprisal from Castro’s regime for having denounced the life-threatening danger political prisoner Lamberto Hernández Planas is in, on hunger strike, for having been the victim of a new maneuver by the State Security to revoke his parole and prevent his work as an independent journalist.

Once again, as usual for almost three years now, we hold the dictator Raul Castro responsible for the life and integrity of Angel Santiesteban-Prats.

As soon I have news, I will keep updating.

Thanks for passing this on.

Angel’s Editor

Translated by: Rafael

4 November 2015

Any Life in Havana / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban, Havana, 26 September 2015 — Rolando never wanted wealth, depending on the point of view you look at it from, because wishing for blue jeans, a good pair of sneakers and some brand name t-shirts, carries an extra sacrifice above and beyond the daily one. It is going beyond, through “ambition,” the possibilities, that usually set or rule an average Cuban’s behavior.

Graduating from nursing school, despite the terrible food that he endured at school, the little enjoyment of those youth years, and the humiliation of being financially supported by his grandmother with her precarious pension, made him walk the desired path of the “easy,” and once his Diploma was endorsed after completion of the mandatory community service required from graduates, he experienced the bad night shift hours at the Hospital emergency rooms, lousy professional rewards and underpayment, and so, among many reasons, accepted the invitation to meet an old but interesting foreigner who offered him, for one night, the equivalent of several months wages. Continue reading “Any Life in Havana / Angel Santiesteban”

Young Rolando is a regular on the Malecon, in clubs, gay bars, the piece of beach called “My Cayito” and many places available for homosexual gatherings. Meanwhile his nursing Diploma remains hanging on the wall. At least that way he could pay back his grandmother, who did not get to see his “profession” change or the prosperous life he’s living now. At times he takes flowers to the cemetery and softly, almost in the ear of her spirit, begs her for forgiveness.

“This is crappy life I have to live, with no choices,” he says disappointed, while sucking his cigarette. “My grandmother has to understand wherever she is … She knows I tried everything and nothing worked.”

And he starts walking along the edge of the Malecon while the streetlights draw shadows he drags down like the ordeal of his own life.

by Ángel Santiesteban

Havana, September 23rd, on probation.

Translated by: Rafael

The Silent Comedy Presents? / Angel Santiesteban

Raul Castro blindfolds a guerrilla sentenced to die by firing squad.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 14 May 2015 — I pray that Europe does not expose its neck to the dictatorship — especially to Raul Castro  “the vampire” — who, by tradition, for over fifty years, has sucked in as many opportunities as his long, sharp fangs have allowed him to.

Each time the dissolution of the (EU) Common Position which prevented the dictatorship to continue abusing opposition as it wanted gets closer, and now, like a snake, we see the dictatorship crawl to its new convenient position that will strengthen it, in order to stay in power and continuing through the “heirs” of Castro being the absolute masters of Cuba.

Arrogant as usual, Raul Castro appears before foreign presidents — who so far have kept a common front to halt his Human Rights violations — and tries to change the story, as if telling a lie over and over in any stand he is offered would make them believe him. Continue reading “The Silent Comedy Presents? / Angel Santiesteban”

Infamous “Che” Guevara shooting.

“Cuba is innocent, it should never be on the list of terrorist countries. When terrorists are those who have committed the murders?” he said recently, meaning, that any guerrilla and separatist movements they prepared and armed is not terrorism.

Besides that, he just shouted that negotiations with the United States must be slow; “He bought fish and he got scared of its eyes,” like we say in Cuba. It’s like dealing with madmen, who are incapable of providing minimal coherence. The Castros need to show that they lead the talks and they are not the eager ones, and do tricks as if it were an ordinary card game, where you pretend to have the trio of Aces.

While there are no signs of change and respect for human rights, it is a mistake to strengthen Cuba’s dictatorship. Unfortunately, I do not visualize that positive mood in the intentions of the totalitarian regime — that with no choice left — we will have to continue facing it for the rest of our abused lives.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

14 May  2015

Border Patrol Prison

Havana, Cuba.

Translated by: Rafael

The Languid and Protean Miguel Barnet / Angel Santiesteban

Barnet accompanied by Castro’s mobs in Panama City, Panama.

We reproduce here an excellent article by Felix Viera about Miguel Barnet, president of UNEAC (Cuban Writers and Artists Union) and one of the most servile cultural commissar of Castro’s dictatorship. In the article Viera offers the example of what has happened to Angel Santiesteban.

Félix Luis Viera, México DF

Miguel Barnet, president of the Cuban Artists and Writers Union (UNEAC) chaired a meeting at the headquarters of this organization in the city of Pinar del Rio, reports Granma — the official news paper — (like all the existing press in Cuba, paid by the government), in its issue of June 30th.

Barnet, as he was candid instead of cynical, brought to the memory of those present, what he has called “Fidel’s words to the Intellectuals,” a terrible moment in the history of Cuban culture. Continue reading “The Languid and Protean Miguel Barnet / Angel Santiesteban”

The versatile “Miguelito” (little Miguel, i.e. Barnet, who was the youngest in that meeting in 1961, in the National Library), recalls, according to the note published in Granma, that Fidel Castro, in that meeting, besides being “in a context in which he was promoting important projects such as Agrarian Reform [which was useless, Barnet could clarify, but either way we clarify it] and also facing the first aggression from US imperialism, he was able to give a high priority to the issue of culture.”

Barnet knows it’s a lie. Lies. He’s a liar, an upstart.

He  knows, that Fidel Castro put together that meeting to put the screws on those who might think there would be freedom of expression in art and literature, if he didn’t, letus remember: “Within the Revolution, everything, against the Revolution, nothing,” the most terrible maxim from Castro in the meeting. Which means, who is not with me, is against me.

However, interestingly, the above phrase is not included by Miguel Barnet in his vibrant speech at the aforementioned assembly.

The president of UNEAC affirms that, thanks to that “presentation” from the Commander, there were many achievements for writers, for example, “to publish a book in capitalism, a writer had to get the funds from his own pocket, or look here and there, making concessions.”

It is not a lie, but it isn’t true either. Many writers received royalties, few, yes, by the publication of his work, but mostly for periodical publications. Writers then, in the Republic, had to perform two jobs, as in the Castro regime.

A good question for the languid yet protean Barnet, would be: Tell me if UNEAC would agree to publish from the exiled writers any rebellious book about the Castro regime and sell it throughout the island, if we would pay for it? I am willing to pay and I know many others would do the same.

But as we know, the answer is No. So, Miguelito, what advantages are we talking about?

“Today we have so many figures, so many great artists who have never had the chance to develop, as happened from the Words to the Intellectuals, and the idea from the Commander of democratizing culture and stimulating the search for new talents in the most remote places of the country,” says Barnet in the above note.

The Commander, he says, “democratized culture” and encouraged the search for “new talents.”

He lies. He knows he lies and he doesn’t even blink. He lies, he knew and his audience knew as well, but the island has already become a place where to lie in favor of the Castro regime is a tacit agreement among those who speak and those who listen. Bilge water.

I think this is a good question for Barnet: Isn’t there a huge group of artists, intellectuals, artists in general who live abroad, because there they could not, they cannot express themselves freely?

Isn’t there within the island punished, censored or imprisoned intellectuals, for publishing the truth about “politics,” as is the case with Angel Santiesteban?

Is there a future in Cuba for a young artist who attempts to break the rules of the dictatorship regarding what should not be in a play?


We see every day how Miguel Barnet drags himself down more. And one of his fine moments is “to rumple the Commander’s beard” whenever he has a microphone in hand.

What a pity.

You know, Miguel, no one will love you, neither those who listen beyond those fallacies there, nor those above you, pretending to rejoice with your “revolutionary spirit.”

Many disdain you, because they know that you do know that what you say is false; you’re made of a different wood and thus result in a lousy actor. You’ll see it, you’ll see the day when the bells ring the alarm.

Good luck.

You see. That’s how things are going.

Translated by: Rafael

7 July 2015

Lambs of God / Angel Santiesteban

L to r: Victor Fowler, unidentified, Mariela Castro

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 13 April 2015 — A friend’s grandmother claimed that most people complain,”When their own toe is stepped on, but not for someone else’s” because it does not hurt them.

Just a few days ago I wrote a post in which I mentioned the Cuban intellectual Victor Fowler. Despite having explained the real dilemma for which State Security threatened to imprison me — and he listened to me and at least said he recognized my situation at that time — I offered him a ride in my car, when I saw him on the street taking his son to José Martí National Library for a cultural workshop. At that moment he made me believe that he empathized with my case. I swear if he had disagreed with me, I wouldn’t have put them the car, on the contrary, I would have admired him. Continue reading “Lambs of God / Angel Santiesteban”

The truth is, that after he stepped out of the car, he gave his signature to those ladies from UNEAC, the Cuban Writers and Artists Union. And then he did not sign when actress Ana Luisa Rubio was beaten outside her house because of her dissident attitude. A serious inconsistency for some who claims he has been humiliated by a building guard who would not let him in, he said, because of the color of his skin, and tries to make a national scandal out of it.

Of course, I declare myself totally opposed to any discriminatory act by race, sexual orientation, religion, origin, cultural or political views. I am opposed to any abuse like the one committed against the Ladies in White and government opponents throughout the island. You stand up against every injustice or none, above any personal cause.

Far right: Abel Prieto

I remember back in the mid-90s, I heard the then president of UNEAC, and today Raul Castro’s advisor, Abel Prieto, express disdain and speak in a threatening manner about Victor Fowler, regarding a complaint Fowler made publicly before a group of Cuban philosophers who were at the UNEAC building: “But what is Fowler saying? He better keep quiet, we just gave him an apartment.”

I found myself in precisely that place after winning the national UNEAC award for the genre of story and — the theme of my book being based on the Angolan war — Abel Prieto begged me to make a deal and remove five stories considered very critical from my book.

“In my mandate I have not censured anyone,” he told me. Therefore, that call was not censorship, because he offered me an apartment for making the deal, which I finally did after reminding him of his phrase against Fowler, fearing he would do the same to me. He threw his arm around my shoulders, saying, “politics”in the end, and laughing he assured me that he would not do it again, a way to recognize his negative and humiliating attitude.

Maybe, Victor Fowler may not need my wholehearted support, but — besides doing it for him — I do it for a personal need. For taking such positions, I find myself  behind bars today.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 13 April 2015

Border Patrol Prison, Havana, Cuba

Translated by: Rafael