The number of political prisoners in Cuba is doubling: the case of Angel Santiesteban / Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban

Angel Santiesteban

By El Manisero (The Peanut Seller)

In this article, our Cuban contributor condemns Ángel Santiesteban’s prison sentence and the grave situation regarding political prisoners in Cuba.

The Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission recently published a report about political prisoners of the dictatorial regime of the Castro brothers, which was made known by its spokesman, Elizardo Sánchez, and in which we can learn that between March 2012 and January 22 of this year the number of political prisoners has gone up from 45 to 90. The report emphasises that in spite of the fact that as a result of the closed character of the political regime the list does not include 100% of those imprisoned in Cuba for political reasons, it is noteworthy that the number of political prisoners has doubled in the last ten months.

This fact puts Cuba in the shameful and inhumane first position in the western hemisphere, and most of the world, for its number of persons condemned for political reasons. In this document, they also make reference to the regime’s change in strategy during the ten years following the Black Spring of 2003 in its effort to put in place, instead of its repression based on long prison sentences, a form of repression called “low intensity”, which consists of thousands of short-term detentions a year.

Included within this total of sentences, which does not constitute 100% of those imprisoned for straightforward political reasons, we find those who are condemned for common fictitious reasons clearly invented and manipulated by the regime, as is the case with the rigged sentence handed down a few days ago against the Cuban writer Angel Santiesteban, in spite of having been denounced several months ago before the High Commission on Human Rights by the independent lawyers Yaremis Flores and Laritza Diversent, consultants acting for internal opposition groups. These lawyers condemned the accusations of fake offences, which is a common practice against detainees and political opponents.

In the case of Ángel Santiesteban it is his ex-wife Kenia, about whose mental health there are serious doubts, who is utilised by the regime, taking advantage of her non-acceptance of her divorce and her very spiteful attitude, which led her to make a series of accusations which progressed into legal actions.

In the beginning, these accusations were not given much credence by the court, which declared the accused to be innocent, but, on Kenia’s second attempt, when they were linked by the case investigator to the accused’s role in opposing the government, he was found guilty, starting off a legal process of sentences adding up to nearly fifty years.

The final case brought against the accused asked for a combined sentence of fifteen years. After appealing the accusations and the sentence, finally the accused was sentenced to five years in prison; when in fact his only crime is: criticising and denouncing the regime in his internet blog The Children Nobody Wanted, as well as in his general writing and his journalistic work where he is trying to exercise his right of freedom of expression.

All the opposition groups in the island and in exile have supported the writer and have condemned the made-up fairy-tale put together in order to send to jail an innocent person whom the regime finds a nuisance through one of the most cruel injustices: a politically motivated sentence.

Cuba Ya Twittea, a project strongly supporting liberty in Cuba by means of giving dissent back its voice, has published in its blog, as a last and desperate move, a collection of information which includes an interview with one of the principle witnesses who denounces the Castro regime’s farce against Ángel Santiesteban and although there is a summary below of what actually happened, the reader can see and hear this more completely in the following YouTube video.

The facts

Kenia D.R.G accuses her son’s father of rape after several years’ separation, but she declines to go to a legal medical centre to corroborate that she really has been raped; later she accuses him of stealing family jewellery, but when the case investigator asks her to provide details of the items supposedly stolen so that he could verify with the family members and friends that she really possessed them, she retracted the accusation and alleged that what he really took was bank notes in various currencies: American dollars, euros, etc.

Finally she asserts that she was hit by her son’s father, attempting to demonstrate this with a photo she had with her, in which you can see some scratches on her skin, with additionally the diagnosis of a doctor who later on in the investigation does not remember the case nor having attended to her, according to his testimony which appears in the record of the investigation.

The examining magistrate notes Kenia’s incoherence, summons the accused, brings up the records, producing witnesses who corroborate his plea of absolute innocence and, without any other intervening measures, he is free to leave.

A month later a fire occurs in the entrance to Kenia’s house. Of course, what better opportunity could there be to level a further accusation against her child’s father, who presents reliable witnesses from the place he was at on the day and at the time of the occurrence. He was allowed to remain at liberty without any kind of bail.

Five months later Kenia went to the Federation of Cuban Women to declare that being a single woman with a child, she was not protected by the police and successfully persuaded that organisation to send a letter to the National Police requesting her ex-husband’s arrest and an investigation with a view to the accused being condemned.

Immediately the accused was summoned and bail is set at 1500 pesos. A report was issued to Captain Amaury, who does not set about investigating and reaching the truth, but rather looks for anything which can incriminate Angel, nor does he go to original sources of information, like neighbours who would be able to offer impartial evidence. Neither did he understand that it was necessary to approach the doctor who in the following days attended Kenia when she checked into a psychiatric hospital and showed that she could not come to terms with the death of her grandmother and the loss of her marriage.

The investigating magistrate by contrast set about bringing forward the false accusations which started off the process, succeeding in extending the list of alleged crimes committed by the accused: rape, robbery, wounding and attempted homicide, on the basis of which the prosecutor, without insisting on evidence showing guilt, applied fora sentence with a total approaching fifty years in jail, with an associated fifteen years, against the accused.

It is worth stressing that the Provincial Court rejected nearly all the testimonies presented by the defence and those accepted were subject to political pressure. It also needs to be emphasised that the accuser Kenia, following her son’s father’s refusal to authorise the child’s exit from the country, assured him that she would lodge as many further accusations as necessary against him until he changed his mind.

The accused, finding unacceptable the wishes of Captain Amaury in clarifying the facts took advantage of the opportunity presented by the evidence of Alexis Quintana and decided to record this video where, in a live interview, the evidence demonstrates the farce upon which all the accusations are based.

International support

Cuba YA Twittea declares in its blog: we have the evidence to prove that it’s all a fiction in order to deprive Angel of his liberty. And here we present the proof and request that everyone circulates it through as many media as possible, in order that some international court will take action on the case and not permit the dictatorship to continue committing with impunity all these violations of human rights now and in the future.

In the face of the great injustice perpetrated against this Cuban intellectual, whose works have been recognised by various national and international prizes and who has been published over half the world, I join in condemning the anti-freedom system of the Castro brothers’ dictatorship and their indiscriminate sophistry, as every human being who respects law and justice, and freedom of expression, has the duty to do.

Justice for Ángel Santiesteban whose innocence merits international investigation in order to clarify and put in place the whole truth of what really happened.

Translated by GH

January 31 2013