Chronicles of Birania*: Justice? / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 3 June 2015 — It is laughable that the prosecutor in Santa Clara pursued a case for “injury” (when it was really a case of “attempted murder and injury”) against Jose Alberto Botell who, in an attempt to assassinate opposition leader Guillermo Fariñas, seriously wounded one of his companions, a Lady in White, who ended up in intensive care with life-threatening injuries, and stabbed four other human-rights activists. For all of this the prosecutor sought only a five-year sentence, but the Court took pity on the “sad case” with murderous intentions, and sentenced him to four years, knocking one year off his punishment.

In my case—after demonstrating my innocence at trial, where I presented five witnesses who they then rejected—even assuming I had committed the crime for which I was charged, the maximum punishment according to the law was four years. They violated my rights by adding to the charge against me an allegation that I was not subject to, for the sole purpose of adding one year to my sentence. This shows that there are two penal codes: one for those sent to commit crimes for State Security, and another for dissidents.

The day that freedom arrives, and all the excesses of the Castro family and the institutions that bend to their will are investigated, many will be surprised, or pretend to be, because the atrocities were committed before everyone, in public view. This is exactly what dictators fear, the day of reckoning. This is why they are currently busy taking the lives of those who will accuse the guilty, and present evidence of their abuses and injustices.

Meanwhile, the opposition has no choice but to continue pointing out the deaths, the abuses, the humiliations.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, June 3, 2015

Border Prison Unit, Havana

*Translator’s Note:
Birania –  from Birán, the name of the Castro family ranch, where Fidel and Raul were born, used metaphorically to describe Cuba as their personal plantation.