Cuban Diary XIX: What the UN Rapporteur Should See / Angel Santiesteban

If the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva saw through a crack the horrors that occur in Cuban prisons, surely it would do two things:

1 – Expel Cuba from the United Nations.

2 – Knowing the alleged violations that are occurring in the prison of Guantanamo Bay, according to accusations from the Castro government, they could send the directors who lead the prisons in Cuba — true concentration camps — to pass a course at Guantanamo, in order to improve their behavior.

The dictatorship, always obsessed with attacking the United States, transmits TV images denigrating what is allegedly happening in Guantanamo Bay.

It’s not my job to defend it or make value judgments about it, this is the role of the American people; my obligation as a Cuban and intellectual is to denounce the terrible tortures that take place in the prison where I have been held and of which I am not a witness.

At present, in the cell, there is a young man with his mouth sewn shut with wire. Today he passed through the prison before the frightened looks from the other inmates.

There are daily fights between prisoners and between them and the guards. I guess this is common in any prison in the world but I am not a specialist to confirm that. But here, when the guards confront a prisoner, the ratio is ten to one, along with their batons and pepper sprays.

The food they serve is a tiny amount and badly prepared. It consists of a few grams o rice, a boiled egg, and a colorless and odorless but always disgusting soup.

The barracks are populated by prisoners who have completed their sentences, and who, because of bureaucratic problems, remained locked up without any consideration. The constant beatings and dungeons are increasing their sentences along with the blackmail to not demand their “rights.”

Silence is the only ally of the Cuban prisoner; talking could lead to a new condemnatory charge in the most arbitrary of decisions.

They wait and resign themselves. They have no alternatives.

That is the stark reality of the Cuban prisoner, who lives without guarantees of his rights or the chance to make demands. Even without reviewing the records of those processed in light of international guarantees applied to the condemned, I can say without any fear of being mistaken that if that were to happen half of the prison population would be freed.

A court that has before it a young man without hope, who, unfortunately, is a part of the children nobody wanted, who has left school and has no place to be nor can he be offered a reliable life project that invites him to get on track that isn’t emigration, the place he can best be held is in jail.

A great part of Cuban youth that has not found a way to go into exile is in prison; and I say this with total confidence, they are following there a criminal course for their future as thugs.

Hopefully the Rapporteur who is sent to Cuba will be able to meet with the people who so greatly suffer the need for him.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580
May 2013

18 May 2013