Prison Diary XLVI: Let Him Sleep / Angel Santiesteban

Today, during the count, Lieutenant Fermin was told that an inmate who had been operated on for several malignant cysts in the testes, to whom they’d given cytostatic drugs and a hundred medications plus a bladder catheter, had a high fever and could not get out of bed.

“Let him sleep,” he answered.

“He’s awake,” a prisoner told him.

“Never mind,” insisted the officer, “leave him be.”

The barracks were silent for several minutes, no one could believe what we’d heard, being treated like a human being.

Like it or not, we have to accept that in Cuban cells there are no human beings, we’re not even in the category of animals, who are cared for and protected in the cattle ranches and pigsties. We are nothing more than “public enemies,” according to the official nomenclature, we are “nothing,” something suspended in time and space, which is neither seen nor does it materialize. There are no rights for prisoners, save the sick and dying.

Meanwhile, the young prisoner becomes delirious, his twenty-something years justifying his crying for his mother. Only silence answered him in the barracks.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats
Prison 1580, July 2013

Translator’s note: This entry was written before Angel was transferred out of Prison 1580, but was first published today, 12 August 2013.