Prison Diary IX: A People Who Avoid Their Government / Angel Santiesteban

The prisons barracks are overcrowded with prisoners who, for the most part, have committed the crime of “embezzlement.” They have stolen State assets, which according to “socialist legality” belong to the people, public good managed by the Castro brothers for more than fifty years, plunging the country into poverty.

A contradiction: if the goods belong to the people, and they, due to hunger, take an infinitesimal part of their property, they commit no offense and therefore they should not be punished.

In any event, this is only in theory; in practice they are serving time for it, while complaining about the impossibility of surviving on the wages of their work.

“If I don’t take what I consider I’ve earned by my efforts, I can’t feed my family. In my case I did it because I wanted to buy a pair of shoes for my daughter for her fifteenth birthday,” a man with teary eyes told me. Another approached to tell me that he is in prison for selling at satellite dish, the dish only, not the receiver, eyes wide as if looking into the abyss. “They exaggerated in the search they made of my home. When they searched a neighbor, looking for drugs, it wasn’t so exhaustive; in my case, because of the lack of information, they are worried about people seeing images of freedom.”

A great part of this mass of “embezzlers” are directors of companies, buyers, warehouse managers… anyone who has within their reach some item that can sell, buy, rent, and profit from that will then serve to acquire the elements vital to the lives of their children.

In a corroded, worn-out society, where young people, the children nobody wanted, only think about leaving the country or stealing to survive, it’s logical to think that the prisons are overcrowded with the worst fed.

The dictatorship ignores the demands of a society to have, in the political and economic order it offers its citizens, most of all its young people, a reality that guarantees present and future prosperity.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

La Lima Prison, March 2013

3 April 2013