Sensitive Issues / Angel Santiesteban

Moment at which the Government’s TV show “Cuba’s Reasons” declared Angel Santiesteban Prats “guilty”

In the days when they arrested me, between last July 21 and August 13, among other questions, the State Security officials questioned me about my economic support. In this regard, I’d never imagined that others would be interested in this aspect, but as the Cuban government likes to accuse every opponent of being a mercenary, I’d like to make this public.

Since I’m in prison, my sister María de los Ángeles, who has always supported me, assumed this role, not without pain on my part, because she didn’t send me her excess, not even from reducing her wishes and desires, but from her own sweat, the same sacrifice, because as she likes to say, “I am the poorest person in the United States, but the richest of any Cuban found inside Cuba.” In addition to my sister, I have received help from friends and colleagues with whom I’ve maintained a close friendship since I was a teenager and youth; and also from Masons living in Florida.

On the literary side, my brother for life and colleague, as well as legal representative as a literary agent, Amir Valle, has collected my copyright earnings and prizes, and gotten them to me in Cuba in various ways. In fact, in Miami it was proposed that in a literary presentation space, my books could be sold, and my sister, in a dignified act, with the greatest friendship, refused to receive the money and, in addition, asked that, without any disrespect, that they not do so, precisely to avoid the Cuban political police accusing me of being a mercenary or maintained by funding from people in Miami. She, from her poverty, will continue with my support.

I have never received money from the American government, nor from any Cuban-American foundation. When someone on Facebook offers to help me economically, with delicacy and thanks, I ask them to send photos of their family at a happy minute, or some book. I never accept money.

I am not a mercenary. On the contrary. I scorned the opportunities the Cuban government offers to the intellectuals and artists if they support the government, and if not, that they at least keep quiet and pretend to be allies.

I preferred, as my sister also says, “to give up being a prince to be a beggar,” and although I never traveled on the Cuban government’s money, I did travel on the invitation of universities book fairs and literary events, saw Europe and a great part of America, including, on more than one occasion, the United States.

I greatly preferred to abandon this life to dedicate myself to the freedom of my country, whatever sacrifice is necessary. And for that, I have been beaten, jailed, intellectually marginalized, humiliated by the cultural authorities, and still it doesn’t seem to me the minimum quota of what it’s worth to be able to freely say what I think in my time and my space.

So much so that I write with shame, because I always compare myself with the great Cubans who gave their lives and their youth to free the nation and, ultimately, to offer a better opportunity to their compatriots.

So I said to the political functionaries who dealt with me, and for this I also wanted to share it with my friends and readers because, above all, I am interested in being transparent like the wind.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Coastguard Prison Unit. Havana. October 2014.

15 October 2014