I Will Continue Fighting Until the Dictatorship Leaves Power / Angel Santiesteban

Position of Principle

I have learned that some people outside the country who are interested in the details of my ordeal in prison had the misconception that I had agreed to perform the forced labor that other prisoners are required to do.

I want to clarify that since my arrival in this place [Lawton Prison Settlement] last August 2nd (those sentenced to less than five years are not to be held in maximum-security prisons, according to the Penal Code), I stated that I would not cooperate with “re-education” because I believe that until you commit a crime you should not be imprisoned, nor, for the same reason, re-educated. After the first pressures to give in (they tried to convince me by saying that if I worked I would get a pass every month, and if I didn’t, every two months, an option that I accepted immediately) they never brought the subject up again.

Keep in mind that my transfer to a maximum-security prison on April 9 was because I refused to report to a hospital for a hastily arranged “health check,” knowing that the real goal was to hide me from the committee of foreign journalists who would visit several prisons that day, including “La Lima,” the place where I was incarcerated. This refusal led to my placement into “1580,” a prison created for violating their rules, a place where they do all the dirty work of Havana province. There they informed me that I would be secluded for six months.

“Twenty days before the UN visit, a Cuban dissident disappeared”
Angel Santiesteban was transferred unexpectedly from his prison and his whereabouts are unknown. At the same time, Castro’s government opened several Havana prisons to the international press, as a prelude to the arrival of the human rights commission on May 1.”

I also want to point out that since I entered prison on February 28 I have not eaten food provided by the prisons, nor have I agreed to wear inmate clothing, nor accept the toiletries or the boots that they sometimes hand out. Perhaps the constant fatigue that I suffered in “1580″ was reported to the prison authorities and they decided to remove me after four months, two months before the completion of the six months punishment to which I had been sentenced.

El Pitirre Prison [“1580”]

In those four months I had two meals a day: at noon I breakfasted on milk and crackers, and that also passed for lunch; at six p.m. I made a soup from packets imported from China, which are sold in the national chain stores, so I lost forty pounds and my taste for food has disappeared.

I suppose that the move here was an attempt to keep me from being an eyewitness to the daily abuses and violations committed in those other prisons, which allowed me to maintain a very high level of denunciation in my blog The Children Nobody Wanted. Two months ago, at this prison, an officer tried to turn off the TV so I couldn’t hear the news, resulting in a direct confrontation. A few days later the re-educator told the prisoners, behind my back, that he was going to “put me in a box” because, he said, I was not a political prisoner. Two days later the chief of CETEM came, wanting to make a deal and threatening to cut off my benefits.

[photo caption] “Eduardito saying goodbye to his father Ángel in the patrol car when he was transferred to Grande Valle Prison on February 28, 2013. Kenia Rodriguez [Ángel’s ex-wife] had testified that her son was terrified of his father because of the beatings he had inflicted on him.”

I want to re-affirm my patriotic desire and need to be a prisoner rather than leaving the country. I rejected the opportunity to leave the island and reach the streets of Miami, which was offered before my incarceration, because I did not want to feel like a fugitive, fleeing the terrible persecution to show my opposition to totalitarianism. And I will keep on fighting until the dictatorship leaves power and allows participatory democracy to guide the paths of the nation.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Settlement Prison. December 2013

 Translated by Tomás A.

2 January 2014