He was introduced to me in 1986, in a meeting of young writers that I attended, invited as an observer, in the Alejo Carpentier Center. I believe I was the last writer who arrived at the then so-called “Generation of the Newest.” There I knew those who later would be my brothers in the profession, and we would share literary, existential and family conflicts.
Jorge Luis Arzola was as thin as a thread of water; his shyness was complete and competed with his naivety. Their first images are those that I’ve always remembered. They remain frozen in my memory: Guillermo Vidal, Jose Mariano Torralbas, Alberto Garrido, Daniel Morales, among others.
Amir came to Havana to finish his journalism studies, which made us closer. He brought that form of rebellion of the literary group, ” Six of eighty,” that State Security, at such early ages, had added to their black list, and they were persecuted, interrogated, and their families were summoned before the Political Police. They were marginalized from literary activities in the province. Once you show your dissent, they never forgive you, although they dissimilate and even smile.
Amir was watched since that time and they never trusted him; they stayed on alert, suffering his literary triumphs, his prolific work.
The writers of preceding generations warned us. In particular, they told me that I shouldn’t trust Amir, that he was not my friend, that he was deceitful, that surely he would betray me, and even his condition of being from Santiago served them to sow discord.
Amir left the country — or they made him leave — and for his political detractors it was a relief. He never stopped contacting us, keeping up with our lives and experiences. In an interview of me that Amir did for his digital magazine, “Otro lunes,” (Another Monday) he raised hives among Cuban officials, and some told me about his nonconformity, but always dropping a hint that he wanted to harm me.
When I opened my blog he appeared very worried. He told me, “Be careful about what will happen, little brother.” He supported me at each terrible accusation, and we suffered together, like brothers do.
From my entrance into prison, Amir has kept representing me and promoting my books, and has taken care of every detail that has to do with my person; and in a great irony, those who betrayed me were those who counseled me to be careful of my brother writer. What’s sad is that they did it out of fear and to obtain benefits, because I heard what they thought of the Regime, and I am sure they are more radical that I am.
That’s the sad reality of the Cuban intellectuals, and at the same time, the immense happiness I have to be able to count on a brother like Amir Valle Ojeda.
Lawton prison settlement. May 2014.
Have Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience. To sign the petition, follow the link.
Translated by Regina Anavy
2 June 2014