Prison Diary XXIX: Censorship in Prison / Angel Santiesteban

You could not imagine the artifices and movements required to get a complaint, a post, a letter where you say what you want to your family or friends about what you feel or what happens in prison, out of prison, without its being seized.

All the documents that leave or enter the prison have to pass by the eyes of the Re-education officer.

Thursday mornings the correspondence is collected, and from then until Friday afternoon, it passes through several readings by the censors, who do or don’t approve it.

This also occurs in reverse, families send letters, and after being read with great care the inmate receives them.

It’s unnecessary to clarify that in my particular case the control measures are redoubled.

Last week my family heard nothing from me, because the officer took the correspondence without noticing, according to what the Re-educator told me.

In any event, I look for alternative ways to get my complaints on the Internet, bypassing the various levels of obstacles.

It’s worth nothing that the common prisoners lend their help in this communication bridge, motivated by the dream of a political change, as well as anger awakened by the guards with their excesses and blackmail.

It’s like a cat and mouse game to get the complaint to its destination, because to avoid them they resort to any unprincipled trick. There are prisoners who earn perks not to let me out of their sight, attentive to every detail.

They have ordered their collaborators to inform on the names of everyone who associates with me. In recent days they have removed five inmates, accusing them of collaborating with me. They are taken to different barracks or other prisons, sometimes located in distant provinces.

To talk on the phone I have to wait for my dat each week, and carefully plan the three minutes allowed, because the clock that calculates the time measures it whether or not you manage to communicate, without any margin.

But every victory, no matter how small, is a pleasure. Of course they hid me away in the this maximum security prison to limit my connection to the outside, another attempt by the Castro brothers’ Government to silence my voice.

One day we will publicly thank those people who have risked their tranquility in prison so that the world will know the horrors that are committed in the prisons of the Castro dictatorship.

Finally, my thanks to State Security’s military prisons which have held me here, allowing me to be a witness to the daily abuses that happen in Cuban prisons before the complicit eyes of those who direct the destinies of the Island; what happens within the Guantanamo Naval Base, as described in the official discourse of complaint, can’t hold a candle to what happens in Cuba’s own prisons.

They should see the level of impunity with which the Cuban government acts.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580. May 2013

Posted 18 June 2013