Thank You, Eusebio / Ivan Garcia

Eusebio-born-in-Mozambiqu-006With the unexpected death of Eusebio da Silva Ferreira on the morning of January 5, the soccer world lost one of its greatest players and an extraordinary ambassador for the sport, an honest and simple man, who never forgot his humble origins despite his fame.

Sports columns of the five continents have dedicated reviews and reports to him. Photos and videos have flooded the internet. Hundreds of condolences have made their way to his widow, Flora, and to his children and grandchildren. And millions of messages have circulated on social media sites remembering The Black Panther, as he was known, for his speed and skill.

Eusebio was born in the suburb of Mafalala, in the city of Lourenço Marques, now Maputo, Mozambique. He was the fourth son of seven born to Mozambican Elisa Anissabeni with her husband, the Angolan Laurindo Antonio da Silva Ferreira, a railroad worker. His father died of tetanus when Eusebio was eight years old. He and his siblings were left in the charge of their mother, in a situation of extreme poverty. As a boy, Eusebio often escaped his classes to play barefoot soccer with his friends in improvised playing fields. continue reading

Carlos Toro dedicated an article to him in El Mundo: “On the 25th of January, he would have turned 72-years-old and Portugal would have rendered him, like it is doing today, high sports and patriotic honors. ’Wherever I go, Eusebio is the name that people mention to me,” Mario Soares, president of Portugal from 1986-1996, once said.

“Forget about Cristiano Ronaldo, the young mythical figure of Portuguese sport, and about Luis Figo, who has the greatest number of international attendance for his country. The king of Portuguese football was, is Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. Eusebio. The International Federation of History and Statistics considers him to be ninth among the 50 best players in the twentieth century.

“A mulato, the son of a white father and a black mother, born in Mozambique, won the right to be saluted as one of the best soccer players of all time, including those we have in the 21st century, thanks to his performances in the imposing Benfica and with the magnificent Portuguese national team of the 1960s”.

Pelé in his Twitter profile said: “I regret the death of my brother Eusebio. We became friends during the World Cup of 1966 in England and last met in the game between Brazil and Portugal in Boston (in September 2013). My condolences to his family and may God receive him with open arms”.

Jaime Rincón wrote in Marca: “Eusebio’s career was unique from the start. His arrival in Europe was full of the mystery and emotion that usually accompanies great figures. At 17 years old, Eusebio was smuggled through the airport of Maputo on course to Lisbon. There, Benfica hid him in a small hotel room in the Algarve under a false name. No precaution was too small to secure the soccer player and prevent his ending up in the Sporting Club of Portugal.*

“With a small salary given his sporting achievements until then, Eusebio soon demonstrated that soccer was seeing a different type of player. Capable of doing 100 meters in eleven seconds, the Panther had power and ability, speed and definition. He possessed a veritable cannon in his right leg, a lethal weapon that made all the difference.

“At only 18-years-old, Eusebio dazzled on the day of his debut in Paris. Before another great such as Pelé, the Panther left the field with 3-0 on the scoreboard. With an insulting audacity, the pearl of Mozambique achieved a hat-trick that not even the subsequent goals of The King could erase”.

Sir Bobby Charlton, a living legend of British football and ex-player for Manchester United and England, remembered him like this: “Eusebio was one of the best soccer players I have had the privilege to play. I met him on numerous occasions after our sports careers were finished. I’m proud to have had him as both an opponent and a friend”.

Eusebio never came to Cuba, but we Cubans who love football and sports knew him. And we thank him for having shot down prejudices and taboos. And for proving, in any country and in any sphere of life, whether you be man or woman, white, mulatto or black, young or old, what matters is dignity and the spirit of excellence.

Iván García and Tania Quintero

Photo: Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. Taken by The Guardian, from an interview on June 6th, 2010.

*Translator’s note: There was fear that he would be kidnapped by a rival team.

 Translated by LW

6 January 2014

The Garden of Congratulations / Angel Santiesteban

Interpreting the triptych “The Garden of Delights,” by El Bosco, we can find, ironically speaking, a comparison with the winner of the Frank Kafka 2012 award, “Long is the Night,” by Cuban writer Frank Correa, who delights in telling stories, just like emptying oil paint onto the palette and passing the brush through it so that the paint moves, becomes confused, converting itself into a range of unimaginable colors for the painter himself, who accepts it as a revelation under discovery.

Correa, through his narration, invites us on a journey to discover alongside him impoverished Cuban society. Like a mannequin, he undresses the social reality of a country inhabited by ghosts. His characters live a constant day-to-day agony, a balancing act sensation on the razor’s edge that is tipped by the tiniest of bad things. With fresh and colloquial reading, his more than two hundred pages are read. He plays with ironies, and in moments–like the flash of a camera–the humor hidden in the circumstance appears, an intrinsic part of Cuban idiosyncrasy.

Thanks to the generosity of the organizations of the “International Franz Kafka Prize of Novels from the Drawer” competition, held in the Czech Republic, it was avoided, as the name indicates–novels from the drawer–that this work remains in the dark oblivion of an artist, that it clamors and struggles, for rights of its own, a space in national literature.

The fiction of the novel culminates with my most absolute reality: prison. His character and I intertwine, between fable and reality, invention and nature; our silhouettes cross and skip times, with that protest of wanting to awaken and abandon the dangers of prison, and–with much to write and to invent itself another space–always finish with the caning of the guards against the fence, yelling TO SLEEP!

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. March 2014

To sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience, follow the link.

Translated by LW
17 March 2014

The Right to Play and Rest / Dora Leonor Mesa

By Lic. Dora Mesa Crespo* and Lic. Odalina Guerrero Lara **

*Coordinator for the Cuban Association for the Development of Infant Education

**Attorney for the Cuban Law Association

ARTICLE 59 of the Preliminary Plan of Labor Law [1] (CHAPTER V. SPECIAL PROTECTION IN THE WORK OF YOUTH OF FIFTEEN AND SIXTEEN YEARS) regulates the working day for working teenagers 15 and 16 years old.

ARTICLE 59: The working day of youths of fifteen (15) and sixteen (16) years of age cannot exceed seven (7) hours daily, nor forty (40) weekly, and they are not allowed to work on days of rest, save that the work carried out for reasons of exceptional social interest or force majeure.

We have expressed with priority, that we consider that the ARTICLE 59 stipulates that “the youths of fifteen (15) and sixteen (16) years of age for reasons of exceptional social interest or force majeure can work on days of rest” infringes Conventions of International Rights, starting in Article 3 and Article 31 of the Convention of Child Rights [2], that treats respectively the superior interest of the children and their right to play and to rest.

The fundamental Article 3 of the Convention expresses: “In all measures concerning children that use the public or private institutions of social welfare, the tribunals, the administrative authorities or the legislative organizations, a fundamental consideration that they will attend to will be in the superior interest of the child”.

If the teenage workers work for social interests in their days of rest, this interest overrides the greater interest of the child and so violates Article 3 of the Convention and Article 13.1 b) that regulates the prohibition of outstanding hours of work for the teenagers in the Convention number 138 of the International Organization of Work (OIT). [3] [4]

When the workers younger than 18 years old work as an exception for force majeure according to the OIT, [5] they were particularly exposed to risks and to enter direct contact with them, which is improper according to the same Article 60 of the Preliminary Plan, the Article 32 of the Convention of Child Rights and Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.

For well-founded reasons in the same legislation, we consider that ARTICLE 59 of the Preliminary Plan of Labor Law should adjust the national and international norms, principles, and rights. For this reason we recommend a new draft that guarantees the respect of the working day and the rest in all labor activities and economic sectors of the workers under the age of 18, not just those who are 15 and 16. People under 18 years of age, being a population especially vulnerable, have a right to a more specific protection.

From our point of view, it should regulate the hours of the working day of adolescents from 15 to 18, shouldn’t expose them to risks, and should always adopt the flexibility and observance of the law needed to accept other proposals of the employers that can be acceptable for the minor, with subject of right and for the competent authority of the Minister of Labor and Social Security of the Republic of Cuba.

According to the Panamerican Organization of Health (2010) it can be said that the leisure or weekly rest (OIT), from a global approach, is a human right, a resource for personal development, an area of human experience, a source of health and of prevention of physical or mental illness, and an indicator of the quality of life loaded with an enormous economic potential.

The Cuban youth, for their dependence and vulnerability, are protected by national and international law. In this manner, they benefit from established protection in all instruments of human rights, and above all in the International Convention of Child Rights and the International Human Rights. The inexcusable respect of the rest of the working adolescents is a basic standard for humanity.






 Translated by LW

1 November 2013

The Dictatorship’s Gift / Angel Santiesteban

February 28, 2013, the day that the Castro brothers’ totalitarian regime jailed me, was not a day chosen randomly by the political police.

That day, several events happened simultaneously, and it was significant for many reasons in my case.  Firstly, that day was the birthday of my partner, and they well knew it because they had interviewed her several times on television; it was also the culmination of the Book Fair in Havana and its continuation in the rest of the country’s provinces.

But not even those two dates indicate the bigger joke, the cynicism in the face of not only the dissidence but the world, principally the UN agency, because that day marked five years since the initial signing that the Chancellor Felipe Perez Roque — in 2008 — accepted the respect of human rights with the UN Covenants.  What they perhaps did not know and is most important for me is that that day celebrated the anniversary also of the birth of the great Cuban writer Cirilo Villaverde.

The Cuban government joined me on a date memorable to the island’s writers with a distinguished writer and fighter for Cuban liberty, a coincidence that makes me proud with the love of literature and the need for liberty. For his political ideas, he was jailed and sentenced to death, which he was able to circumvent thanks to the complicity of his jailer.

In homage to his sublime figure, I now in prison began a novel that takes place in 1808, on the eve of the anniversary of his birth, and my characters travel that Havana that he describes in his novella Cecilia Valdes or the Angel’s Hill; it has also inspired in me a script for a telenovela, which I am working on currently, writing the scenes for more than 100 episodes.

According to the writer, blogger and fighter for Human Rights, Luis Felipe Rojas, by taking advantage of my time in prison, it could appear to be a conspiracy between my readers and State Security.  The truth is that if that February 28 was intended to be a mockery of any of the “coincidences,” I have tried to reverse it and make it transcendent, at least for my future work Fear and Truth.  Such is the fear inoculated by the dictatorship since its birth, that later — as much as we exorcise it — it remains hidden, lurking in our guts.

Recognizing the fear in the Cuban citizens is simple and part of the idiosyncrasy of a people engulfed in dictatorship.  To demand rights, convinced by reason, is unacceptable for the majority when they infer the cost they would have to pay.  By telling the truth one is accused as a traitor, of pandering to our neighbor to the north.

In this year of incarceration, many have dared to send me their solidarity verbally, recognizing that to declare it publicly would be to pay a price that they are not ready to sacrifice.

But the most difficult thing has been to accept that that engendered fear also permeates the opposition as is demonstrated in several ways.  Some have given witness to having been threatened by State Security, which would not pardon them the defense of my case, to the point of intimidating them by prohibiting for them the possibility of travelling abroad, now that this has become the fashion.

That corroborates my fear that many of them gave their word to stay at my side, but once I was sent to prison, they distanced themselves, forgot their commitments, coming to allege that my “accusation” is hard to defend because of the international propaganda against “domestic violence.”  If that is not called striking a deal, I don’t know the word to define it.

Of course State Security searched for the most sensitive accusations in the public view in order to try to some extent to be defended; for example, running over a child in the road and fleeing, rape, attempted murder, among others — coincidentally all erroneous — for which I was formally accused.

In the first Prosecutor Petition I published on the internet, it sought 54 years incarceration, which was only truncated thanks to the hidden interview — recorded on video — that we did of a false witness that the prosecution, police and complainant prepared with the intention of corroborating their lies.

I will always ask myself what would have happened if the “witness” had not been caught telling the truth!  Today I would be sentenced to more than a decade of incarceration and with almost all the opposition to the government turning its back on me because they would see me as indefensible.  The fear speaks for itself.

As if that were not enough, the forensics specialists admitted that the “witness for the prosecution” was telling the truth, in terms of unmasking the ruse against me, because he thought that the person who interviewed him was part of the prosecution, as he was introduced, and was unaware that he was being filmed by a laptop camera that he had before him.  In that video the witness admits that he is uncertain that I was in the place where I was accused of being and for which I was sentenced to five years in prison, now finishing the first year behind bars.

Simply, when it comes to officials or opponents who accept or put in doubt my innocence, I do not rely on their transparency.

Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. February 2014.

Lawton prison settlement.  February 2014.

To sign the petition for Amnesty International to declare Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience, follow the link.

Translated by mlk and LW

27 February 2014