From Villa Marista They Threaten to Delay Angel Santiesteban’s Release / Lilianne Ruiz

Angel in an earlier prison where he was held for a while.
Angel in an earlier prison where he was held for a while.

Lilianne Ruiz, 12 June 2015 –Last Saturday, officials of Section 21 of the Ministry of the Interior returned to take Santiesteban  from the prison where he is held in Jaimanita to Villa Marista. There he spent twelve hours in an office listening to threats from two MININT officers who told him “Why would we free you if some Sunday you’re going to meet with the Ladies in White and we’ll put you back in prison.”

Angel got two and a half years in prison, although the Ministry of Justice accepted the appeal for review of the judgment filed by his lawyer, which showed that he was a victim of a spurious trial, because of the slanders of his ex-wife. This June he is rightfully entitled to parole. His friends and family hope he will be released before the September visit of the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

While waiting for his freedom, Angel reads tirelessly. And writes. He completed 36 interview questions for his friend and editor Amir Valle, some stories, and is also working on a screenplay inspired by his work “13 South Latitude.” To counteract the heroic-epic view of the war in Angola being promoted by the latest films produced by ICAIC (Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry) on the subject.

He writes literally cloistered in the 3 by 4 meter kennel where they keep him, and from where they only let him leave once a week to walk 20 steps to talk on the phone, and every 21 days to walk 40 steps to the courtyard where he is visited by relatives and a friend. The place is in a military unit west of Havana. He writes with a pencil, so he asks his friends for 0.7mm leads. His writing is very clear, no smudges or doodles. Like a scholar’s writing. I can’t help but remember that the slant of his writing—which seems delicate to me, like a high school student writing his first poems—was the only evidence presented by the prosecution* to try to prove his alleged violent nature.

This month, according to Cuban law, he is eligible for parole. His friends and family impatiently wait for that day. His daughter excitedly tells him that she got the second choice on her application for seeking a university degree. And his son wants to be a writer like him.

He told me that to stay in shape he runs the perimeter of his cell for an hour. He has calluses under the big toe because it has to flex every 3 steps.

Posted in El Blog de Jerónimo

*Translator’s note: A “handwriting expert” was called as a witness in Angel’s trial and testified that his penmanship — the size and slant of his letters — was proof of his guilt. (No, we are not making this up!)

12 June 2015