Family Wounds / Angel Santiesteban

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, 14 May 2015 –– There are sorrows that always are remembered, that seem to have happened yesterday. At the beginning of the century, my younger sister and her husband were already involved in the dissident movement, receiving blows left and right. Every weekend they were thrown into prison. There was a time when to invite them to a meeting meant that everyone there would be beaten up. Sometimes they were used to mislead the political police to go in the opposite direction of where the meeting would really be held. The dissident movement itself suggested that they leave the country; they were liable to be sanctioned for years, and that would harm their three young daughters.

Fridays, after school, they left the girls with me and left for the Struggle. Sunday night, when they didn’t return, that was proof that they had been detained. They would appear Monday or Tuesday, weighing several pounds less, and with the dirt and the typical odor that adheres to someone in prison. They picked up the girls and barely talked about what happened, although they didn’t need to.

The sadness, humiliation and resignation to the fact that this would not be the last time escaped from the children’s eyes like a pack of rabid dogs. The saddest was the youngest girl, named Maria. She was about four, skinny as a stick, and barely saw a patrol car or a uniformed police officer that she didn’t start trembling and ask that they not prey on her or her parents.

The day they went to the interview in the United States Interest Section, they had to talk with her several times before she would enter the building. Now that she is in the United States, she still has that fear of patrol cars and police officers. Her sisters, older by a few years, threaten her with “calling the police” if she doesn’t pick up her toys, so that Maria will cooperate and immediately do what they ask.

Thank God, Maria is today a free girl, away from the wrath of the Castro dictators.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

May 14, 2015, Border Prison Unit, Havana

Translated by Regina Anavy