Angel Santiesteban: Open Letter to the UN Commission on Human Rights*

I write to you from the depths of despair produced by being a prisoner of conscience in one of the horrendous prisons of the Castro brothers. In their hands is the opportunity to impose agony upon an extensive penal population that survives the cruelest famine and physical and psychological torture.

To hide the truth, I was taken on April 9 just before international journalists arrived at La Lima prison. They took me out by the back door and I was taken to another prison, 1580, where they have committed all sorts of outrages and humiliations worthy of Nazi concentration camps.

The lack of food and proper sanitation are the other elements that add up to make this a real prison camp. They violate the most basic rights of human beings and their families. Prisoners live crammed together amid continuing violence.

In recent months there have been two large fires of unexplained causes. Multiple suicides are also a daily part of life in prison.

Upon my arrival, after several days of hunger strike and being put in solitary with no light, no water, no clothes or toiletries, I was attacked by several guards, holding me by my limbs while another squeezed my nostrils shut until I opened my mouth to breathe, and then they put stinking soup in my mouth that choked me; and so, over and over, until I was on the floor completely covered in the food helpless to avoid it.

I want to report to Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Quintana, head of the Havana Province.

I also want to clarify that my situation is not the worst. I would like them to listen to the abused themselves so that they can explain the hell in which they live. I fear not being credible enough to expose the horror and the wickedness that we suffer daily.

The dictatorship must understand once and for all that it is impossible to maintain disastrous power based on the people’s pain.

We beg this to take the testimony firsthand, under full oath, and ask God to put his pitying hands on this country forgotten by the international community, and that they manage to collect the testimonies of prisoners without their being threatened ahead of time, as usual.

We ask that Cuba sign the UN covenants and accept the statements of Human Rights, if not, to take appropriate measures to expel the concert of free nations which aims to live undiscovered barbarism imposed on us.

We are a devastated country which — despite these fifty-four years of slavery — we still dream of becoming a prosperous nation.

Please accept my thanks in advance.

Ángel Santiesteban Prats

Prisión 1580. San Miguel del Padrón, Havana. Cuba.

* The HRC in Geneva, Switzerland, was created by 47 member states on March 15, 2006 in the Assembly of the United Nations, to promote universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, without distinction of any kind, and in a fair and equitable manner. Along with the Security Council, these are two of the principal organs of the highest level and prestige within the UN system.

23 April 2013