Prison Diary XV From Prison 1580: Which The Commission Should Visit / Angel Santiesteban

It has nineteen barracks crammed with hungry and disappointed men who lately have been mocking the image of Cuban prisons the Government wants to show.

Here, in Prison 1580, they won’t bring them, says one, and everyone else laughs.

The prisoners in Cuba, in particular in Prison 1580, work the whole month, including Saturdays and under the sweltering sun, in heavy construction work to collect 103 Cuban pesos.

They return to the barracks frustrated. Helpless, they hide their tears behind vulgar expressions, offending the prison system and Government leaders, and so they vent their discomfort.

Add that of the 90 grams of rice due them they only get 40, and of the two boiled eggs most of the time they get only one, with the rest of their food consisting of a colorless, odorless, very bad tasting soup.

Added to that there are the beatings, the constant dungeons, the sentences that are extended, and the blackmail so that they won’t demand their “rights.”

The combination of all this is unbearable: the exploitation of man by man. But it will all be hidden from the national and international journalists Commission…

The Castros have always mocked the Commissions that visit prisons. They prepared a walk-through for a couple of prisons painted and decorated for the occasion, with prisoners warned not to say a word and that later compromises them and for those they refuse time off for good behavior.

Everything is a perfect representation of the scene of a play staged for the Commission to get a good impression. In other words, a constant mockery of human rights and those who protect them.

The prisoners only yearn for their freedom, understandably, and so they join forces in silence enduring everything to get out as soon as possible.

But many can not suppress their desire to protest and they approach me to denounce the continuing violations of which they are the objects and the injustices they suffered in their trials.

They place their hopes in me even though I assure them that I can not do much because their statements will only be read abroad. But they insist that they want the world to be aware of what is happening in Cuban jails.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Prison 1580. April 2013

3 May 2013