Prison Diary XXXVIII: Inducement to Suicide / Angel Santiesteban

In the days they had me in the punishment cell and I declared a hunger strike as the only way to protest against their injustices, several officers visited me, the Lieutenant Colonel and head of the prison, Villaurreta Reinaldo Vargas, Major Erasmus, the political major of the prison, and Captain De la Cruz who, cynically, urged me to hang myself, as it would be the best way to avoid our having to coexist.

When he mentioned it, he looked at the bars on the windows. I then explained that given how tall I am, I needed more height, since my feet would remain on the floor.

“As you,” I said to him, “are a short person, perhaps you’re thinking of yourself; fortunately we’re not all the same height.”

He was looking serious and, without answering, he left. That insinuation certainly came from State Security, and it was he who was sent to me to suggest suicide.

The prisoners comment among themselves that Lt. Col. Ceja, after giving an underage prisoner a savage beating that killed him, hung the boy in the cell as if he had hung himself. The inmates know the name of the victim, the officer and also the place and date.

Perhaps one day soon we can get justice, not to be confused with revenge. What’s important is that mistakes should have consequences, and that in our collective future as a society no ideology, political movement or leader, no matter how charismatic they may be, can again drag us down the path that turns us into executioners.

Each time a judicial process is opened in the world against corrupt or murderous ex-presidents, a joy overwhelms me, it is the sign, the warning, that nothing will be forgotten, that good deeds will be remembered, and bad ones punished.

The only thing unacceptable is to forgive them. This they must ask of God, while serving their sentences for genocide, murder, torture, human rights violation, false witness, the evil actions in their status as civil servants, and so on.

From that day, Cuba will begin its ascent to civility.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Prison 1580.

24 July 2013