Testimony of Angel Santiesteban after the events on Thursday, November 8, 2012 / Angel Santiesteban

Angel moments before his arrest. Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

“I’m happy, I’m doing my duty.” #OlaRepresiva #FreeRodiles

Interview filmed by Claudio Fuentes Madan

My name is Angel Santiesteban Prats, I’m a writer and Cuban blogger, government opponent.

It was really sad what happened there, the whole world has seen the terrible video, where unfortunately we show what happens in Cuba every day. Thank God we now have a video to show, these so difficult minutes, but they occur constantly and almost never can we record everything that happens … and worse, for example, the same beating they gave Rodiles, that could not be recorded, if they weren’t already in the street, right now.

When they hit me in the car I really thought I they were going to fracture my skull. I did not think that a person could take some punches as strong as that. And that is why I tried to get out.

At the Santiago de las Vegas station, something unpleasant happened: the official called “Camilo,” according to what he told me, took me to a room and put a gun to my head. I felt the pressure of the metal on the places he’d injured from the blows he’d given me minutes earlier and he said, “To you, what I should do is shoot you in the head.”

They were the longest seconds of my life and I said, I don’t know where I got these words, I really was terrified, terrified at the moment, about how far the madness of these assassins would go, and I said, “At some point you will have to pay me.”

Seconds later he removed the gun and says, “Better, when you go out to the street, we will give you a hammer on the head and say it was an assault, it will be left that it was an assault.” I have understood that they have done this to others, I actually talked to another who was there at the Santiago station and he said they had done the same thing to him.

We are in terrible times, times of anguish. When the tyrant is throwing his final tantrum is when he becomes most dangerous and that’s when it can cost lives.

We are really very concerned with the lives of the activists, the people who are willing to offer themselves, to sacrifice themselves, but in any event we want to take care of them, we don’t want anything to happen to them.

So we want the world to help us, from wherever each person is, his words, his voice is an echo of the pain we feel here. Any person who rises up, to help us and support us, is also struggling in a sense against the dictatorship in Cuba.

Claudio Fuentes: If you could say something to those who beat you …

Ángel Santiesteban: You should know that I don’t hold grudges. I pity them. I feel especially sorry for their families: they are tarnishing the future of their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren, who, embarrassed, will have to accept, “Yes, yes, that was my great grandfather …”

And may they realize what they are doing and when they are given orders to repress, may they do it for themselves, may they save themselves.

Justice does not expire. When you make a mistake, 30, 40 years will pass but you have to pay for that mistake and sooner or later, they will have to pay before justice for all this abuse committed against their people, the citizens, whom they are trampling underfoot and behaving toward as true assassins. They are behaving towards us as true assassins.

Claudio Fuentes: Something you took pleasure in during the time you were arrested, the silver lining…

Ángel Santiesteban: Yes, well, first with Eugenio Leal, we spent the night talking about cinema, literature, art, and Freemasonry and it was a really an enjoyable night. When I got to the dungeon Leal was there, because I had been taken first to hospital, and at his side was was Veizant [Boloy, Yaremis Flores’ husband], and it came straight from my heart and to say to them, “I am honored to be here with you tonight in the dungeons, to share this night with you in this place, it’s an honor for me, I feel it … and well afterwards, with Claudio, with you, that went super well.

I think they suffered to see us laughing. And just talking about literature, we talked about cinema, photography … and really it’s where you feel most human, where you feel a deep affection for your companions.

None of us thought of ourselves there, we were actually thinking of Yoani, of everyone, of Veizant’s wife, of [Antonio] Rodiles, we thought of them. If we would have said “we are already free” we would have passed the time a lot better, but we were really concerned about the fate and suffering of these people.

We knew what they had done to Antonio Rodiles and that made us suffer greatly, we did not know his fate. Remember that they took us from the street, from the monument there, that was a perfect place for them to massacre us and leave us there, shot, that is what I fear will eventually happen.

And their destinations unknown, they took Yoani, we did not know what her fate would, also at that time they had taken you to another place, and we feared they were beating you, that you were suffering.

But honestly if we knew at that moment that we were free, we would have felt better, despite the body aches we all had, I think the best, I admit it, is the glow I feel in having been a part of it, like in the 19th century, as if we were seated in Guaimaro*, the height of all this great history that we Cubans have.

To be there, there’s no other way, for me I am proud to be fighting for the people of Cuba, for my family, for myself, for the future of this country that deserves, starting now, to have a brilliant destiny, a destiny of peace. We’ve had more than a century of supposed democracy and that hasn’t happened: we have suffered, we are constantly suffering.

Claudio: Finally, I would like you to repeat some words you sent your wife from in there, you managed to get out, “Tell her that I’m happy here, because I’m doing what my heart and my conscience ask of me.”

Ángel Santiesteban: Yes, and they told her! When I was there, my wife was up at the station and I ordered them to tell her I sent her a kiss and to tell her how I was… And it came out of my soul and I said to the officer, “Tell her I’m happy, that I am in the place my heart has brought me to, that I am very well here. That she should go and rest and not worry herself, that I am doing my duty.”

Angel’s shirt as it was returned to his wife after his arrest and beating.

*Translator’s note: Guáimaro is the place in Cuba where the Revolutionary Army of Mambises met in 1869 and created the Constitution for a new nation free from Spanish colonial oppression.

Source of interview text: tweetymail.com/users/PorOtraCuba [For Another Cuba]

13 November 2012