Prison Diary XL: A Broth for the Dictator / Angel Santiesteban

My family sends me the underground solidarity of friends and neighbors toward my reality. If we add up the population that doesn’t support the regime, we would think the fall of the dictatorship was imminent; but I know first hand that those who reject the existing process, are the same people who then go to the Plaza of the Revolution because they fear having it worse.

I once told the story of Stalin, who standing in the snow, wanted to teach his functionaries how to  subjugate a people, and before the eyes of his companions, deprived a bird of its plumage and threw it into the snow. Immediately, the bird ran for cover between the boots of the assassin. Several times he pushed him away, and with no other choice to survive, the animal returned to his feet.

I assume his lackeys understood the example well. I would like to ass to that story that after they returned to the shelter of the palace, convinced of the bird’s plea, of its utter helplessness and unlimited surrender, the dictator asked his cook to prepare him a nice broth to satisfy his unlimited whims.

Of course Cubans have never been masochists or stupid, although in these more than fifty years we might well have won; but I understand that the logic of the Cuban is thinking that it could be worse.

The prisoners complain all the time, and every time they bring me a complaint I ask them if they accept that the complaint will be filed with their name, then they get scared, and tell me they’ll be deprived of their benefits.

“And therein lies the price,” I tell them, “change is at the cost of sacrifices.”

Sometimes they complain about the food, and I think rightly, the stink of it makes me think an animal wouldn’t eat it.

I tell them that the following day, June 9, will be four months since my arrival in prison and I have never entered he dining room, I have no idea what’s inside, I assure them that the day we agree to unite in not going to get the food, things will change, they will take steps to improve it.

“Political,” one says to me, “if it were that easy we’d do it with pleasure. The food, which is a stew, they will feed to their pigs, and they will send us to the other end of the island and our families will be hit the hardest, and with the lost of our credits, they will deprive us of every possible chance to get out before serving our whole sentence and everything will remain the same.”

Those who have emigrated know that is true, any rebellion is shut down, in the place where it is, with the worse experience, with the hardest of punishments, and most, therefore, turn their backs on our reality.

It seems that our internal problems will be resolved by international demands like the UN, and like the racist regime of South Africa, they will force respect for the Human Rights of Cubans.

As a start, the first big step of the climb to freedom, and in turn, the beginning of the fall of the dictatorship, will be with the ratification of the UN Covenants; which they are about to demand a the FIDH Congress in Istanbul in the month of May.  Congratulations!

Angel Santiesteban-Prats. Prison 1580, July 2013

29 July 2013