Angel Santiesteban: International Support Can Awaken the Courage and Pride That All Human Beings Keep in our Hearts

“We live in a State without rights.”

Interview with Ángel Santiesteban, sentenced to five years in prison by the Cuban regime.

By Félix Luis Viera, México DF

Cuban writer Ángel Santiesteban, one of the most outstanding storytellers of the Island’s literature in recent times, has been sentenced to five years in prison. His offense: “housebreaking and injury.” However, the one sentenced said that “No court sanctioned me: State Security sentenced me for opening a blog and opposing the government.”

They have tried Angel Santiesteban for crimes of a “housebreaking and injury.” However, those who brutally beat him, who locked him in a cell for several days, where they humiliated him with gestures and words, did not have to try him, although they live under the same Penal Code.

CUBAENCUENTRO interviewed the Cuban writer, about to go to prison.

Everything indicates that in the coming days you will go to prison to serve the five-year sentence, how do you feel?

Ángel Santiesteban (AS): I feel sad, but I felt that since before the imprisonment of Sonia and Calixto, among others; but before them there were others who also went to jail unjustly, including the poet Raul Rivero. I’ve been sad since I was born, since my mother taught me that Communism was the symbol of human misery and that we lived in a dictatorship. As I saw starting with my biological services and my writer brothers left for other places in search of freedom and a better future.

Despite everything I feel strong, and a strange happiness even though, because I feel that a government which imprisons its opponents does it because it is weak, that its stay in power is becoming increasingly short, time is running out. And that makes me very happy. And that’s what matters.

Are you still saying you’re innocent?

(AS): Totally. But more than this affirmation, the evidence presented speaks for me, where we see the disrespectful handling of the law against me, where the lie is unveiled. No one is guilty until proven otherwise. In Cuba it’s the opposite, so I already showed that I am innocent, but even that is not enough.

Do you consider your sentence is the regime’s revenge for what you’ve been writing in your blog, The Children Nobody Wanted?

(AS): I started writing the blog at a mature age, therefore, my sentiments and work were already tested. Only a few months after opening the blog and starting to criticize the system, I’m discovered to be an unknown monster. It’s too coincidental. You don’t have to be very smart to understand.

Are you afraid of retaliation against your family while you are in jail?

(AS): My biological family is in Miami. Anyway, we all suffer reprisals in Cuba, from the point of view that you can not defend your rights. Cubans are accustomed to shutting up because they can then be threatened, judged and abused.

Is there anything you want to say to the international public?

(AS): Despite the economic crisis afflicting the world, please, stop for a minute and turn your eyes on our archipelago. How long will we have to suffer so much injustice? In Cuba there is a fear of dissent, of opposing the State; but international aid can awaken the courage and pride that all human beings hold in their hearts. I can assure you that only rarely in history has there been such a repressive dictatorship, they barely allow us to look up, they watch us constantly and if we make a single move that threatens their confidence we are already surrounded and suffer terrible from state security. I can assure you that the Castros do not violate our rights, because we don’t have any. We live in a state without rights.

Published by CubaEncuentro

February 4 2013