Blessed are Those Who Have Friends / Angel Santiesteban

Amir, listen, I was remembering a lot of intellectuals we respected and loved who on many occasions went to my house to talk about the interviews you were doing with me because they claimed that you were going to betray me when State Security attacked me.

Today I arrived at the conclusion — once again — that those who betrayed me were them. You have always been by my side as a true brother. A warm embrace.


Ángel Santiesteban: From Butterfly to Worm

Amir Valle


Below are the [subtilted] video sequences edited for those who can’t watch it.

Angel Santiesteban Prats
From Worm to Butterfly

How a dictatorship tries to turn a prize-winning author into a criminal.

Angel Santiesteban Prats (Short story writer, novelist, blogger). Condemned to 5 years in prison for the only crime of thinking and writing differently from the official Cuban dictatorship.

With two of his books already considered classics of contemporary Cuban storytelling, Angel Santiesteban is an essential name in Cuban letters. He only had to write three books to garner the three most important literary prizes on the island in the short story genre.

UNEAC Short Story Prize 1995
Alejo Carpentier Short Story Prize 2001
The Children Nobody Wanted
Casa de las Americas Short Story Prize 2006
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
His work, included in all the national and international anthologies of Cuban short stories, is also published outside the island.
In Spain
Angel Santiesteban
Blind Blogger
In Slovenia
In France
In Spain
At those times, when he wasn’t yet a “problem” he was seen on many cultural stages on the island.
Many foreign colleagues have asked about Angel Santiesteban’s life as a writer. These images, with other very well-known Cuban writers, speak more than a thousand words.
With his former teacher and mentor Eduardo Heras Leon, the editor Pablo Vargas, and Francisco Lopez Sacha, then president of the Writers Association of UNEAC
With the writer Reynaldo Gonzalez, winner of the 2003 National Prize in Literature
In Havana with the Cuban actress Sheila Roche, and the writers Francisco Lopez Sacha (right) and Jose Miguel Sanchez-Yoss
In Havana with the world-renowned novelist Daniel Chavarria
In Havana with the great Cuban poet Rafael Alcides
In Havana with Pedro Juan Gutierrez who, along with Leonard Padura, is the Cuban writer on the island with the greatest international renown.
In Havana with Manuel Garcia Mendez, also a winner of the Casa de las Americas prize in 1992, one of the most renowned Cuban writers in exile.
In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with two famous Cuban writers, Arturo Arango and Camilo Venegas (center)
With two of his true friends, Nelton Perez (back) and Guillermo Vidal (white shirt) one of the greatest Cuban writers of the 20th century.
With a great friend, the poet and novelist Rafael Viches Proenza, one of his most faithful friends.
Embracing the also ell-known writers Felix Sanchez and David Curbelo, at the Havana International Book Fair.
Here he is with some of the youngest writers of the time (early 2000s), all admirers of the works of Angel.
His first sin: Writing the reality of our country in his blog.
His second sin: Defending his right to the free expression of his ideas.
His right not to participate in an electoral system that doesn’t represent him.
His right to freely express his political thoughts.
His right to freely choose his human and social relations. Here with Gorki Aguila, of the rock group “Porno para Ricardo.”
His third sin: To join in friendship and social activism with other activists of peaceful change in Cuba.
With the director of the independent Estado de Sats project, Antonio Rodiles, another voice that makes the dictatorship tremble.
With Eliecer Avila, one of the most lucid critics of the Cuban dictatorship.
With writer and journalist Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabel, another writer who bravely challenges the dictatorship.
To silence his voice, first they sent plainclothes agents to attack him.
And so this.
Months later they arrested him and beat him so much the shirt he was wearing looked like this. November 2012.
One of the political police agents, so-called “Camilo,” threatened him with death.
On this occasion the same agent told him: “The five years in prison you’re going to get isn’t enough? And this happened when the court still hadn’t deliberated at rigged trial.
How could this henchman of the dictatorship know the sentence, if supposedly Cuban justice is independent of the police, as the defenders of the dictator Raul Castro claim?
Angel Santiesteban Prats. Don’t send a Cuban writer to prison!

Angel Santiesteban should not go to prison. Speak up!

When Hitler and Stalin were murdering thousands of people many said: “Why are we criticized for not speaking up, if democracy is precisely this: having the right to be silent or to scream?
This is the response of cowards.
This justification makes us cowards and opportunists when, taking shelter in this democratic right, we allow the crime to continue… this makes those who remain silent accomplices to the crime.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Nobel Prize for Literature 1970

Translated by: @hachhe

February 8 2013