UNEAC: A VIII Congress Like the Previous / Angel Santiesteban

If Fidel and Raul Castro should be delegates to the UNEAC Congress again, we can predict right now that it will be a copy of the previous, which, viewed from a distance, did not achieve any social scope, saving to mitigating development, destroying illusions and win the trust of power with opportunistic statements.

All those of us from the base who have participated in these events, know that the presidents of the associations, not to mention of UNEAC and is vice-president, are handpicked according to political trust. The vote of the artists don’t decide, but their personalities are malleable.

I remember a ballot count when the now-deceased Guillermo Vidal–a great writer from Las Tunas–obtained a huge triumph in the votes, but he was not invited to join the Congress because his literature and posture were critical.

The system of elections of the UNEAC is similar to that of the president of the nation; a total fraud.

The creator’s guild does not answer to its members but to the State. It’s just a detail that makes an organization useless and falacious.

Dreaming of a Pen Club to work for the benefit of its members, will be the carrot of Cuban writers.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. March 2013

To sign the petition please follow the link, asking Amnesty International to declare Angel a prisoner of conscience.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

7 March 2014

Farewell To Revolutionary Sport / Angel Santiesteban

Life gives us the opportunity to use it at the whim of our possibilities of talent, for personal gain. In life we engage in a search for what we can be as good professionals, if it makes us happy to do it, and in doing so we discover that we add glory to the society around us, and we make our family proud. This is the perfect formula to feel fulfilled, amen, if we are also well-remunerated.

The outstanding sportsman, Lázaro Rivas, ¨Illustrious son of de San Nicolás de Bari,” could feel like that (except for feeling well-remunerated). He gained the world title in his weight class, in Greco-Roman wrestling, among other awards. He brought glory to his town and to Cuba, until his official retirement in 2011.

In recent days he disappeared physically as a consequence of a brawl with another sportsman. His family members came to say goodbye to his body, as did two trainers and some friends. The corresponding sports officials were not present, nor was the government. That was, in sum, the gesture of gratitude that the State awarded him for his efforts.

The precarious infrastructure on which sportsmen count is no secret to anyone, above all those at the bottom layer, to accomplish their feats. Your would have to appreciate more their human capacities and persistence to achieve such rewards, a great part of those being at the top and refusing opportunities in professional sports where they could earn large sums of cash, the only thing that would guarantee them economic sustenance after the official retirement pension given by the Cuban authorities.

I was witness to seeing the legendary boxer, Teofilo Stevenson, roaming the city to find ingredients for a sancocho (a type of soup), that some shops kept for him, to feed the pigs that he raised in the swimming pool of his house. He also participated in the familiar theater of pleasing foreigners who visited him and were itching to pose for a photo with their idol, after coming to an agreement to pay 100 euros, to put on the table some bottle of good whiskey, and in the best of cases, moreover, invite him to a restaurant, to obtain this souvenir.

The also distinguished fighter, Félix Savón, has had to accept this manner of survival. Visitors leave with his photo and a gesture, or a stench of knowing that their admired gladiators live off handouts. I got to know a Czech who visited them. Many ballplayers live off public charity; they eat and drink at the expense of their fan club.

Thanks to the opening of the State, above all in baseball, those older players with fewer performances are permitted to go to small clubs that can pay for them in some way, either as athletes or as trainers, so they can live of their savings, some years without destitution.

Among them are the pitcher Lazo, today contracted by a club in Mexico, and before that Victor Mesa in Japan. At least the most distinguished athletes have that opportunity of survival. The others, those whose names have been erased from the collective memory, today are ghosts lost in society, sons whom no one wants. That’s the destiny that revolutionary sports assures.

We would say that a large part of the most talented have made the most difficult decision: to abandon their country and their families, without knowing when they will return. A sad fate for Cuban sportsmen.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. January 2014

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy and Regina Anavy

10 January 2014

More Dirty Tricks Of The Dictatorship On The Eve Of The CELAC Summit / Angel Santiesteban

Among my papers they found an issue of Encounter Magazine and one of Cuban Hispanic; they seized them because they appear to be against the Regime, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and they took a text from Amnesty International what explains who they are, what they do, and what are the rights of the citizens of the world. They took everything as if they were loaded down a lot of plutonium.

The detailed search was carried out by Major Joaquin – alias “the bogeyman” – and twelve officers who accompanied him. Then Major Cobas was responsible, along with two other officers, to communicate with me and he suspended my pass. I just smiled. They are like morons who insist on being brilliant.

I am here for a falsified crime, what does it matter that they now invent a disciplinary infraction — we stared at each other — anyway, I told him, this doesn’t hurt me either.

- I’m happy for you, he said.

- You are my reason for being – I already said at the door.

- And you, ours.

We looked at each other and he stayed seated behind the desk with all the arrogance that totalitarianism gives them.

It is no secret that the real reason for this search is to not allow me to walk the streets on the eve of the CELAC (Community of Latin American States) Summit, a meeting the leaders and their delegations will attend regardless of the continued repression of the dissidence and persecution of those who dare to think differently, and therefore, the incarcerated.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. January 2014

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

14 January 2014

Dancing and Enjoying The National Symphony / Angel Santiesteban

Empty lenses and blocked wagons

Raúl Rivero

Madrid – It now appears that the stubborn, closed, dogmatic, blind that will not see the changes of the Cuban regime are the human rights activists, the Ladies in White, independent journalists, former political prisoners and opponents will wake up tomorrow under a repressive atmosphere that continues. It ensures that there is a lack of main focus to see the reality of life, as if the beatings, the dungeons, the repudiation rallies and harassment were shadows from the past.

That is the tendency among some natives and foreign scholars, teachers and philosophers, “bishops and ambassadors,” as José Martí says in the poem The Girl from Guatemala.

It is also a school of thought in the complex and varied waves of those who suffer fully from the Stockholm syndrome and resent the critical and constant presence of the groups of men and women in Cuba who remember every day that taking sweet potatoes off the ration book and the capitalism of crappy food is one thing. is freedom is another.

A similar view, colored by the rules of politics or diplomacy that are expressed in a kind of embarrassing or almost clandestine solidarity, is that some politicians have a great international record of being Democrats. To them, the vicissitudes of power and finances give them special progressive lenses that have conveniently embedded clouds and clarities through which to observe the Cuban scene. Continue reading

Cuba, Dignified (?!), Custodian of UN Human Rights Teaches Its Citizens The Art (?!) Of Repression / Angel Santiesteban


The Cuban musicians who sell their soul to the dictatorship

What was always everyday, the times of freedom reject. This happens in the country’s culture. A great share of Cuban artists have always allowed themselves to be used for political purposes. They never asked why or for what. They only agreed to hold their concerts, regardless what the real purpose of the alleged cultural activity would be.

Until the 90s or so, when they were interviewed (it also happened with athletes), they made clear their support for and gratefulness “to the Revolution,” but above all “to the Maximum Leader Fidel Castro.” The discourse of the creators was changing, and they no longer expressed such recognition, and dedicated their achievements to “the Cuban people and my family.”

The money they earned in the international market, which until then it was heresy to save it, even in a bank account abroad, they failed to surrender to government coffers, not to say, to confiscate, as they did with every right they seized. Then cynicism made its way into cultural society: it began to take on one side and the other no matter where it came from. The important thing was to survive. Continue reading

Christmas In Cuba ”Paradise” With Many Slaves / Angel Santiesteban

Enslaved prisoners

December 25th: The inmates of Cuban prisons have worked in the condition of slaves which they find themselves.

The Blockade: The Longest Genocide in History

For them there is no Christmas or New Year. All they will have is to exercise their muscles to fulfill the tough work which the regime obliges them to do.

At a recent meeting, a chief of prisons, publicly stated that he preferred working with prisoners versus civilians, because the latter left when they finished their 8-hour working day, while the prisoners could go many days with no rights, not even to protest, infinitesimal pay, and cheap food. Compare that to what the Cuban officials say in Geneva, that Cuban prisoners are respected with regards to salaries and hours, when from dawn to dusk the sweat runs down their poorly paid and badly fed backs. Continue reading

Mandela Has Died: Hopefully One Day His Real Thoughts About The Dictator Fidel Castro Will Come To Light / Angel Santiesteban

I always assumed, out of respect and ethics, not to speak disparagingly of the dead. This time I will not. To this I will turn to a literary level suggestion. Nor will I agree to see the stains on the sun, when this African leader has filled pages of heroism for his pacifist stance toward which belonged to him in his own right, and which he demanded for his people; but trying to be consistent with our actions and thoughts, I remember I wrote a post of respect and sorrow to suffering Madiba, because he had not wanted to look at the pain of the Cuban people, and publicly assumed friendship with Fidel Castro, and his sympathy for the “revolution”: “I am a loyal man and I will never forget that in the darkest moments of our country in the fight against apartheid, Fidel Castro was on our side.”

He was also a friend of Saddam Hussein and the then head of state of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi (whom he awarded the highest distinction in South Africa, the Order of Good Hope), which he justified by saying: “I do this because our moral authority dictates that we can not abandon those who have helped us during the darkest moments in the history of our country. They provide us with both resources and instruction to struggle and win. And those South Africans who have scolded me for being loyal to our friends, can literally go to hell. “

We must not fail to recognize that the struggle in Angola, particularly the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, helped crack the racist regime of South Africa in the last century, hence it is not wrong to say that Cuba influenced the defeat of apartheid, and consequently in the release from prison of which was later the first president democratically elected by universal suffrage in that country, which from that point of view, justified his gratitude to the Cuban leader and his dictatorship.

But ignoring the pains of Cubans and being a personal friend of the tyrant, will be one of the great contradictions that history may be responsible to explain, or make us understand. Arguments may then validate his attitude, particularly when he openly criticized Sani Abacha, a corrupt and brutal Nigerian dictator in the 90s.

What is certain and less understandable is that during his visit to Cuba, just to be consistent with his history and consistent with his thinking, he should have demanded the release of political prisoners and, in particular Mario Chanes de Armas, a former fellow soldier of Fidel, considered the world’s oldest political prisoner, who surpassed, at the time of Mandela’s visit, the time of imprisonment suffered by Mandela. However, he sank into the embrace of totalitarianism, something against which Madiba had fought and risked his life for.

Hopefully one day it will come out into the open, away from the grateful man, his real thoughts about the dictator Fidel Castro, and his decision to keep his criticism silent, because I refuse to think that a man of such magnitude, as was Nelson Mandela, has been honest and approved a process which is devoid of the slightest democracy, going in contradiction to his thinking and way of being: “I do not want to be presented in such a way that whitewashes the darker parts of my life”, he said. So God has taken him to that place which has been earned, and the Cubans too.

“Real leaders should be prepared to sacrifice everything for the liberty of their people”.

“To be free we must not only get rid of the chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

“It is the duty of journalists to examine and bring to light the conduct of public figures”.

“If I am your leader, you must listen to me. If you do not want to listen to me, what you must do is abandon me as a leader”.

“Let freedom reign. The sun has never illuminated a more glorious human achievement.”

“To be free is not only free from one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”

“When I left the prison that was my mission: to liberate both the oppressed and the oppressor.”

The great reality, in which must those who supported him and his critics must agree, is that with his continuing struggle he managed to free his people; being selfish, he was interested in nothing else other than the welfare of his own.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. December 2013.

Editors note: Difficulties with the internet of our contacts in Cuba have been the reason why this post comes so late and when Mandela is no longer the “theme”. These are the same difficulties which I have mentioned in connection with the allegations published by Dania Virgen García on Cubanet on harassment and threats against Ángel Santiesteban which he has not bowed to.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

19 December 2013

Communique: Castro, The Guardian Of Human Rights In The United Nations, Returns To Harass And Threaten Angel Santiesteban

Detention of a Woman in White, Havana, 10th of December 2013. (EFE)

                    

The detention of Antonio Rodiles.

A few days shy of ten months of wrongful imprisonment, after a show trial in which they have never proven one of the crimes brought against him because he never committed them, and without which the prosecution hasn’t responded to the appeal for a review of the case which submitted by the lawyer Amelia Rodriguez Cala on July 4th of this year, in the Lawton prison settlement where he is now detained since his birthday (August 2), Ángel has started being harassed and provoked by his jailers, in what we consider a clear strategy to push him to commit any misconduct that would justify a new transfer to a stricter regime of prison or which would allow his accusers to prove his supposed violent nature in the retrial, after which, if the Cuban legal structure works, they will be required to release him.

These are not isolated events: the re-educator had already tried to set the other prisoners against Ángel and told them he would put him “in a box”. Inmates assumed he was referring to a coffin, but another reading could be that Ángel would be “tamed with dirty or violent methods.”

Then on Friday the 13th during the night, the settlement was visited by the new head of CETEM, the Major Cobas, along with the aforementioned re-educator. Ángel recounts that: “The other night they searched me, there was the head of the camps, as the Chief re-educators, and I did not permit him, he opposed me then threw my stuff on the floor and kicked it so that I could not touch it. They told me that it was a serious breach of discipline and that they would make a record of it immediately. Then they took all of my belongings and searched them.”

How far do you plan to take the abuse dictator Raul Castro, now shelterd by the Human Rights Council of the UN? Shame is what all the member countries of the UN which sit on the Council should feel towards this systematic violator of all rights and freedoms of the Cuban people, who only seeks to extend his archaic but deadly reign of terror to the rest of the continent.

All international press with dignity, last December 10, the International Day of Human Rights, showed the world what the pathetic UN Council was trying to hide: the Cuban government celebrated that day by repressing its opponents in what is considered one of the darkest days of repression in Cuba. But the truth always triumphs, Mister Dictator. And Justice too, of that you should not have the slightest doubt. But if you do however, study some history.

I repeat what I have told you many times, you and the whole army of thugs at your service are absolutely responsible for the life and safety of Ángel Santiesteban-Prats. And remember that while the world is watching in horror as you send paramilitary mobs to beat up peaceful Ladies in White carrying gladioli as the only weapon and as you use children as shields in acts of repudiation against those who think differently and also serves as a witness of the most abhorrent scenes of physical violence against activists who, moreover, weren’t even demonstrating in the streets, as was the case in the door of the headquarters of Estado de Sats; that same world continues to recognize the talent of Ángel, rewarding him, as happened in September when he was awarded the Franz Kafka International Prize for Novels from the Drawer, and they paid tribute to him, just as he received a few days ago in Montreal. Oh how it hurts! Doesn’t it?

So do not forget this: You are responsible for what happens to Angel, and for the orders which you give to your henchmen. The world is watching.

The Editor

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

18 December 2013

URGENT: Angel Santiesteban Harassed And Threatened In The Prison Of The Regime Which Is A Member Of The UN Human Rights Commission

The incommunication problems because of our lack of internet connections in Cuba have prevented us from offering, as it should have been, the inside scoop on the harassment and threats that the writer Ángel Santiesteban-Prats is suffering since early this month at the prison in which he is currently located. We were hoping to offer firsthand reports narrated by Angel, to those witnessed by the family who related this to us by phone.

But not even these communication problems have gotten the regime off the hook: the journalist Dania Virgen García sent from the island an article denouncing this new violation of the rights of Angel. It proves once again that there are many who are willing to stop the injustice committed against Angel from going unpunished.

We publicly thank Dania Virgen García and all those who have already reproduced this article in their blogs and other digital media.

The Editor

Here is Dania’s article:

Lambasting in the prison of the writer Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

by Dania Virgen García

Havana, Cuba, 17th of Decebmber 2013, Dania Virgen García/www.cubanet.org.-

In the penal settlement of MININT (Ministry of the Interior), in Lawton, in the Havana municipality of Diez de Octubre, where the writer Ángel Santiesteban-Prats is held, the re-educator tried to use the common criminals against him, this past 11th of December.

In the ten months that the writer has been held in the settlement, he has never participated in the physical countings, inspections or political activities.

On the day in question, Santiesteban remained in the barracks, when the prisoners were called to be counted. The re-educator, not seeing the writer, was annoyed and began to shout insults against him.

Then, from the mouths of the prisoners themselves, he knew that the re-educator had said he would put him “in a box”. The inmates assumed it was a reference to a coffin.

The reeducator said, moreover, that he would make a report to his superiors for his misconduct and that Santiesteban was not a political prisoner.

The inmates realized that reeducator had lied, because some of them have seen the writer’s ID card which has a green stripe that crosses from one side to another, and over it are the letters CR (counter-revolutionary), and under his picture the is the word “Warning”.

On the night of Friday 13, the settlement was visited by the new head of CETEM, Major Cobas, who tried to provoke and question the writer.

Since entering prison, the writer Santiesteban-Prats has never eaten prison stew; instead he eats the provisions which his family has sent him. He is never seen dressed in prison clothes and he has never accepted the personal supplies which are given to the prisoners.

He was withdrawn on April 9th this year, from the camp of forced labor known as CETEM, La Lima, located in the town of Guanabacoa, to Prison 1580, with the intent that he will not be present during the visit of international journalists who were manipulated by the regime officials.

Currently, the Casa de las Americas Prize for narrative maintains the same denial in the settlement.

Santiesteban thinks it was naive of the jailer or else that the new boss wants to provoke him, thus causing a prison indiscipline, accusing him of a crime to be able to send him to a closed prison. He suspects that the guards are being manipulated by the repressive Department 21 of the State Security.

Rest assured that whatever the intention, he will remain with his principles and ethics, which he has maintained in the 10 months he has been held for an alleged domestic assault that the trial could not prove.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

17 December 2013

Is Cuba Now Celebrated by UN As Custodian of Human Rights Despite Blatant Violations? / Angel Santiestebad

Detaining of a Woman in White, Havana, 10th of December 2013. (EFE)

We are all too aware Cuba’s dictatorship does not possess the slightest modicum of remorse or self-reproach, so we cannot ask such a State to behave honorably. The Cuban dictatorship is not worthy of respect.  Time to stop looking in vain for something that is just not there.   Best we just resign ourselves to reality.  If anything, the serious question that begs asking is why certain governments keep close ties to our two warlord brothers.  Not easy to stomach how some apparently respectable and democratic nations accept having Cuba take on the presidency of CELAC.*

Before allowing Cuba to become a bona fide member, the proper thing would be for the UN to kick Cuba out of the Human Rights Council.  Just how on earth has it become possible for the Castro brothers to — without any trace of unease or embarrassment –  shamelessly mock the international community of nations under the auspices of the UN?

In Cuba, on Human Rights Day what the State commemorates is the opportunity to violate as many human rights as possible.  On that Day, all manner of human rights are violated in a proud and peerless display of the Regime’s totalitarian access to military and judicial might. Dozens of women from the honorable roll call of Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) were beaten and arrested in front of people who remained silent for fear that any alliance to the voice of opposition — no matter how humane or reasonable — would spell reprisal from oppressive government forces.  Once again, people did nothing to stop the abuse and humiliation of their fellow citizens.  At the home of Antonio Rodiles — a.k.a. the SATS headquarters for open thought — Calixto Martínez, Kizzy Macías and Rodiles were all taunted and later arrested in order to contain the initiative for Human Rights meetings that openly challenge the regime and its totalitarian laws.

I am convinced and pray to God that one day soon we will be able to celebrate the Rights every human being born on this planet has the right to enjoy in order to be protected from Fascist states.  The very fascists states shaped after WWII but unknown in Cuba.

When that day dawns, we will exalt those brave enough to suffer mental and physical abuse under this regime.  And those who keep silent or feigned support to the current dictatorship will only feel shame.

Fair to say that despite the State’s hatchet men and the well-oiled machinery of repression, Human Rights Day on December 10 was still felt on the Island archipelago.

Down with Dictatorship!  Nation and Freedom!

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. December 2013

Translator’s note: CELAC – Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.  An organization created to promote deeper intergration within the Americas.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy and JCD

16 December 2013

Testimonies And Evidence Puts The Hitmen In The Dock Of The Accused / Angel Santiesteban

Viewing the videos of the assassins of the regime, especially against the Ladies in White, their constant abuse, cynical laughter and death threats after forceful beatings, we can assure ourselves that they are ruthless beings who do not deserve to be born of a woman. It is so obvious that their feelings belong to mercenaries, who would work with the regime in power to get perks and extra benefits from them.

Testimonies of Jews who survived the concentration camps tell us that other Jews collaborated with the soldiers, although they knew that those whose clothes they collected would be taken to the gas chambers, but they did it to survive, they stayed there or went to join the ranks of those sentenced.

Those who collaborate with the Cuban dictatorship, like all minions, lack feelings and ideology. Unequivocally, these officers of the dictatorship, will be thugs under the command of the Mafia, or the highest bidder to buy their criminal services. They have signed on so that they can avoid their criminal actions and from now on, and save lives

If we’re still alive by then, with our testimonies, we can put them in the dock of the accused and they will pay once and for all for their abuses and crimes. Patience, there is increasingly less time for the Arab seated on the door of his cabin waiting to see the corpse of his enemy pass by.

We don’t want too much, we will be satisfied at the trial with their fake shame and repentance, another strategy to elude justice, and apply international law for their crimes.

When that hope is met, there will be the announcement of a Cuba that reorganizes individual rights.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. November 2013

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy

9 December 2013

Prison Diary LXX: Maturing Maduro in the Raul Castro Version / Angel Santiesteban

Now that the President of Venezuela has assaulted the stores in his freeform version of “Robin Hood,” with the mistaken and desperate idea of getting the poor on his side, while others stage a faithful version of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” the Cuban leader Raul Castro should imitate him and assault and lower the inaccessible prices that he sets for his impoverished people.

1-1385672602_miseria-132-1385672603_miseria-153-1385672603_racionamientoThe “hard currency collection stores*” can only be visited by those Cubans who receive remittances from friends and family abroad, or by those nationals who survive through the black market, the majority of them by taking whatever possible from their workplaces. The average salary of an ordinary worker is 450 Cuban pesos (also called “National Money”), which converts to 18 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). A Chinese Panda brand TV is sold in the national network of hard currency stores for 300 CUC, meaning that this average worker would have to work seventeen months to acquire it, when the cost of the TV, according to what a functionary told me secretly, doesn’t exceed 8 dollars each, which converts into a net profit of nearly 38 times the cost.

Of course, this whole “happy dream” for the exploited Cuban worker, could be realized if he can survive for almost a year and a half without eating or grooming or dressing himself, without electricity or water, and God help him if he has a wife and child. Therefore, a common joke among workers is “they pretend to pay you, we pretend to work.”

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Photo: Pablo Morales Marchán/ Hablemos Press

Years ago I talked with a foreigner who had been interested in importing food to Cuba. The first thing he discovered was that the government did not care to offer a better price to the people, they are only concerned with adding up their profits.

He was alarmed by the 2.40 cents on the dollar for which a bottle of the lowest quality of oil was sold to the people. He would offer the country a business it couldn’t refuse, for example: a bottle of sunflower oil for between 9 and 11 cents per unit, including transportation to the port of entry, less than the 12 to 14 cents they were paying at the moment, without adding on the cost of the functionary who traveled abroad, his costs for food, air transportation, lodging, expenses, etc.

Despite his good offer, it was rejected. After gaining the functionaries’ trust, they explained, between invitations to restaurants and whiskey, that leaving the country was their benefit, because they received commissions from the capitalists they agreed to buy from.

A country led by a wolf, can only turn itself into a pack of wolves. “A madhouse would never be able to organize itself,” the foreigner told me and he never was interested in returning.

5-1385672604_fidelcastro-refinamiento

6-1385672604_che7-1385672605_raul-castro-alcohol8-1385672605_raulcastroexecutes9-1385672605_raul-castro-sierra-maestra10-1385672605_camilo-raul

The worst part is that he was right.

Ángel Santesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison settlement. November 2013

*Translator’s note: A literal translation of what the government itself calls its stores that sell goods only in Cuban Convertible pesos.

Translated by: Shane J. Cassidy
28 November 2013