Angel Santiesteban: Most of our people pretend

Disoriented in time like all ex-prisoners, Ángel Santiesteban brings with him a thousand prison demons.

Interview with Ángel Santiesteban after his conditional release – Cuba 2015.

Havana, Cuba, Augusto César San Martín —  The writer Ángel Santiesteban Prats suffers with every word he writes. “I classify my work as social,” he declares in an interview given to Cubanet. “It’s always about the environment that surrounds the Cuban,” he adds.

And “suffering” is the best word to describe a people numb with fear, according to the writer who won the Short Story Prize from the National Union of Artists and Writers in Cuba (UNEAC).

“Most of our people pretend; they hope that this will pass and that they don’t encounter that wall. They don’t brave any consequences they might receive for confronting the dictatorship,” he expressed.

Named by Reporters Without Borders as one of the 100 Information Heroes in 2014, Santiesteban was released from prison under a cautionary measure that can reverse his current limited freedom.

The author of several books of short stories, he received the Franz Kafka Novels of the Drawer Prize for his novel, “The Summer When God Was Sleeping,” where he recounts highlights that mark Cuban society: the participation of Cubans in the war in Africa, prison and the rafters.

Perhaps this last is a reckoning with his past for the 14 months he remained a prisoner at the age of 17, accused of conspiracy for saying goodbye, on the coast, to the family that failed as rafters.

He confessed to Cubanet that he carries fears with him in order to defend his ideas. They are in his blog, The Children That Nobody Wanted, and in the fear of dragging his family along when he’s repressed by the police.

He states that the two and one-half years in prison made him grow as a writer, a human being, and revealed to him the courage of Cuban freemasonry, to which he belongs.

His memory for the offenses he received has the same power as his disposition to reconcile with his adversaries. He suggested that I invite them to a rapprochement, even though conciliation appears difficult.

Disoriented in time like every ex-prisoner, he brings with him a thousand prison demons that will sleep with him for the rest of his days. Perhaps he doesn’t know that they’ll be persistent companions, but he is convinced that they are there, watching over his spiritual damage on the orders of those who imprisoned him.

The writer describes death threats by the police, arrests, insults, psychological damage to his family and imprisonment – a scenario that could well accommodate negative feelings. But in the hour that we share in one of the offices of the Great Masonic Temple, Ángel Santiesteban Prats doesn’t show the least hint of rancor.

Published in Cubanet.

Translated by Regina Anavy