Rafael Alcides about the Official Novel against Angel Santiesteban

I present to you here the article that writer and poet Rafael Alcides published in the blog Penúltimos Días about the judicial farce mounted against Angel Santiesteban with the sole and hidden objective of silencing his critical and damning voice about the Castro dictatorship.

I ask readers to read this article knowing that Rafael expresses himself ironically but without removing one iota of the truth from what he says about Angel, the horrible antihero into which they try to convert him, the false testimony and the judicial manipulation and from the proxies and scribes of infamy that the regime knew so well how to buy in order to execute and legitimize such a dirty objective.

I believe the clarification is necessary because of the many reactions that his first article about the topic provoked and because he already busied himself clarifying in another article and because such bad fury was used by the Writers of Infamy concentrated in the Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC) in order to criminalize their colleague (and friend in many cases) and convert him into an example of the macho, abusive and violent man whom they should only recognize in the Castro dictator, his minions and those men in Cuba who regrettably are violent with women and each day pursue and brutally beat the Ladies in White and other brave and peaceful opponents throughout the whole island.

It remains to be said that there also exists — regrettably — a large number of men who practice domestic and gender violence.  Against these men among whom are found distinguished members of the nomenklatura, Justice has never done anything; it would seem as if they had assumed that violence against women and machismo are ingredients of national folklore.


By Rafael Alcides

A novelist who would like to write the complex and diverse novel that is hinted at behind the bulky “Santiesteban case,” could begin with the presumably frightened faces that the poor magistrates who failed in said process to know the facts that they would judge.  I get it, because of my own fear and because of what obviously brought the Women of UNEAC to manifest their wrath.  The prize-winning author Angel Santiesteban, UNEAC Prize, Juan Rulfo Prize, House of the Americas Prize, and who physically only would lack the horse to seem an all-powerful rodeo cowboy (The Novelist could not describe his character), threatened his ex-wife with death, hit her, tied her up in order to rape her in comfort and set fire to the house.

I, who at the beginning believed it a magnified quarrel, discord, lovers’ disagreement of the kind that so often feed the great loves while they last (and in that respect I wrote some lines of which I now repent), on knowing the facts in detail or supposed facts (The Novelist will have to investigate them and take a position), I told myself:  this is not the Angel that I know.  It’s not him.  And searching for an explanation for the undoubted failure of the judges, it even occurred to me to think of witchcraft.  Had not Angel been a victim of the evil eye, one of those “hazards” of the sorcerers of the Guatemalan mountains in the time of my childhood?  Also The Novelist would ask himself, but on finding a certain video downloaded from the internet maybe he would stop searching in the Hereafter.

Disturbed by the disconcerting mutations in the conduct of the protagonist in the mentioned video and main witness in the charge by the ex-wife of Angel Santiesteban, he would scrutinize the mystery of this young, good-looking, talkative, well-presented man who on appearing self-pitying retracts on the video his first statements in the police station against Angel.  Regret, nothing strange, The Novelist would think, I have read Dostoyevsky in depth, but now he would draw a blank when he learns that later, in the trial, this same loquacious young man, generous to the point of opulence in the details in the filming seems to be erasing feelings of guilt that would not let him sleep, suddenly, as if suddenly exchanged for a clone, as if a power greater than all the witches of my childhood had placed grief over his head, he returned to being the fundamental witness for the accuser, the enemy of Angel.

Maybe The Novelist then imagines that compassion could very well be a named protagonist in the Case, and maybe he is wrong.  As he is not The Novelist a person who believes in evil a priori, maybe he excuses Angel’s ex wife imagining her one of those poetic souls who end up believing and swearing with hand placed on the fire what they invented in one of those trances in which any of us, fantasy or not, would give half our lives to be able to transform ourselves into nuclear weapons, which would explain the eagerness of the ex-wife to erase her ex from the memory of well-born people.  Because if anything seems like life it is radio novels.  Not for nothing has Felix B. Caignet sometimes been as medicinal as the Virgin of Charity in Cuba.

Seen this way, maybe the Novelist would stop by the office of the police officer who, according to the young man in the video, began to visit the Ex after her denunciation in the precinct and frequently began to stay to sleep over in the house.  In that case, at best it might give the Novelist to create a mutual inoculation between both characters.  She passed him the bacillus against Angel and he to her those that would be expected in a police officer who was not born tomorrow.  But let’s not complicate the Novelist.  Let’s suppose that he has left the officer listening at the foot of the accuser’s tales about her unhappy days with Angel, sorrows so great and of such a kind that they moved him to pity and he couldn’t avoid infecting the officials charged with opening the indictment in the case, this solution would permit the Novelist to explain the part of pity that seems to have decided the failure of the Trial magistrates, in the first instance, and later those of the Supreme Court.

Investigating as was his duty, The Novelist “knowing, from his time as a psychologist, the best documented historian of his time, nonetheless availed himself of apparent fictions in order to represent it,” could then be aware that a few years ago, the young prize-winning author Angel Santiesteban started to think for himself, he was then assaulted by the unknown enthusiasts who broke his arm for educational purposes.  So they might suspect that, the Novelist, asked to identify the educators with rebar wrapped in a newspaper so common at the repudiation rallies but unable to confirm it, were loose ends, adrift, down the drain (but refusing to disappear) of the old days before the Elian case, when the Rapid Response Brigades would go out to take back the street, a task that, in effect, these detachments would over accomplish with a subtle but sufficient breaking of bones, lost teeth, bleeding eyes and so-and-so’s here and there limping for weeks and some, “it’s inevitable,” who knows, perhaps for life.

The Novelist wouldn’t like these methods.  Me neither.  But shouldn’t The Novelist before judging talk to those who’ve been doing it?  Perhaps then he wouldn’t accept it, but at least he would understand these devoted people.  Or they have fought, and sometimes shed their blood in the numerous overseas wars waged by the Cuban government in its first thirty years in power or had elaborated all that was said and done by his government a mystic idea so powerful that there couldn’t exist someone on earth, in the sea or in heaven that didn’t share the idea of their leaders.  Not even in heaven.  “They are heretics”, one of them said to me once.  Another one said “I would beat them to death”, and another who was very catholic, maybe thinking of the heat from hell, with teary eyes and the passion of a Arab who has seen his faith attacked said to me twenty years ago, holding my hand with fervor and staring at me at a table with two beers “I without laying a finger on them would let them fall from a very high roof into a pool filled with boiling oil”. There was no cruelty in the heart of those devoted people, however. There was love, devotion and unconditional love beyond death for the government project that constituted the reason for their life, their marrow that has gloriously burned to say it with the poet.

In statement on the Internet, Dr. Vallín, honorable man and prestigious attorney, claims that during the trial against Santiesteban, witnesses were not allowed and he alleges the defense was obstructed, mentioning laws that were not taken into account by the court. While they aren’t a justification, the rationale of government devotees explained in the previous paragraph, might have permitted The Novelist to understand the irregularities observed by Dr. Vallín.  The pity already stated on the one side, and on the other that these learned men with cap and gown should have represented the free-thinker Angel Santiesteban, still alive, was too much. They failed.

Of course, “and The Novelist knows”, this mixture of sentimentality and  governmental loyalty that on our Island has reasons to work in the garbage truck driver who has seen his son off to the university with a doctorate degree, it would not be convincing abroad.  It couldn’t.  Those curious people from “outside” see things differently.  They still talk about social contracts and things like that.  That’s why from the beginning I assumed, or “better, I believed in being sure” that the government of Army General Raul Castro, looking out for the good image of its administration in this pivotal moment in history, would do justice to the author Angel Santiesteban.  He wouldn’t allow in this case, I thought (and I hope that with me the hypothetical Novelist believed it) to become something else.  Because any person, however humble they may be (or seem to be) can be, nevertheless, the beginning or the end of an era. I think about the nobody in Sarajevo who stepped out in front of a coach.

Finally (second ending to the story: you choose) The Novelist appeared to say, obliquely, without seeming to, in his usual subtext (and if he wouldn’t say it, I’m telling you now so you won’t misunderstand me again), finally, ladies and gentlemen, enough of repeating episodes, of different dimensions but in essence like Christ, Herod and the Pharisees of that time.

Havana, March 19, 2013

Published by Penúltimos Días