One of the most outstanding storytellers in the literature of the Island in recent times has been sentenced to five years in prison.
By Felix Luis Viera
The Cuban writer Ángel Santiesteban, one of the most outstanding storytellers in the literature of the Island in recent times, has been sentenced to five years in prison.
His offense: “housebreaking and injury.”
However, the condemned himself said that “No court sentenced me: State Security sentenced me for opening a blog and being a government opponent.” He adds that the case against him for alleged crimes began about three and a half years after he “got sick of continuing to wear a mask” and opened an independent blog, The Children Nobody Wanted, from which he has been publishing the truth about the current state of Cuban culture and society.
So, he was successively accused of running over a child and absconding, rape, armed robbery, attempted murder and injuries, charges that later were not sustained. The writer says that the with regards to the two offenses for which he was finally prosecuted, seven people testified that he was not at the scene of the event in the Havana neighborhood of Vedado, but in the distant town of Diez de Octubre, studying with a lodge brother who had an exam for Master Mason.
I believe what Santiesteban says, not what a dictatorship says or might say, a dictatorship that maintains silence on this sentence before the residents in Cuba. I also believe in what he says because the offender has proven to be a brave man, who had earlier said that he would not pay even “a fine of five dollars,” but that in this case he would go to jail because he is innocent.
On November 8 Santiesteban was severely beaten by the Castro hordes when he and a small group of activists went to inquire about the situation of the regime opponent Antonio G. Rodiles, at the police station where he had been arrested in Havana. As a result of the beatings, the writer was left with damaged ribs and a considerable wound in his head, among other injuries. Subsequently he was locked in a cell from which he was released days later, interestingly, when a photograph of the shirt — now bloodied — that he had been wearing when attacked began to circulate through social networks. While in the brig, Santiesteban had declared a hunger strike.
I think to remove certain mystery that covers why the accusation, Ángel Santiesteban, who still has time to do so before going to serve the sentence (which is being appealed), should tell the story a little more about the facts alleged against him and which led to the penalty. Although, as I said before, I, and many others, believe in his innocence. And we believe that the dictatorship is trying to silence in this way a voice that has made them uncomfortable in recent times.
In these cases, one thinks we should ask the writers living in Cuba for solidarity for an honest, brave, selfless compatriot. But the writers on the island who could be in solidarity with their colleague do not have access to this information, since it does not suit the dictatorship for them to know it and they do not have Internet access.
Moreover, it makes no sense to ask for solidarity from is other colleagues, that minority who do have Internet access. Because of this minority, most of them have sold out to the Castro regime so long as they publish their books, they get to travel, they get medals and diplomas; that is, they enjoy the high privileges that make them say, as the great vassal Miguel Barnet said recently, “It is a privilege to live in Cuba.”
To Ángel Santiesteban who has been tried for crimes of a “housebreaking and injury.” However, to those who brutally beat him, who locked him in a cell for several days, where he was humiliated with gestures and words, they will not be held accountable, although they live under the same Penal Code.
What happened with this Cuban writer could be the start of an escalation of the dictatorship, as happened in 2003, when 75 dissident journalists were sentenced to long prison terms and three men who did not deserve death were sentenced to it. I only say this to give an example.
January 27 2013