Testimony: The Failed Attempts to Make Me an Agent – I / Angel Santiesteban

Photo: Reuters

Knowing how to say no when the opportunity presents itself, no matter the surprise, the gain, or the subsequent costs of the negative, is what differentiates us from prostitutes.

My rejection of the regime came to me from an early age, I knew it was the wrong road and that with the Communist System the Cuban people would never enjoy the full and dignified life they deserve after a half century of the Republic.

How can I forget the calls in the University made to Amir Valle when in the middle of classes they interrupted the professors to take them out of the classroom and threaten them for what they said or failed to say. Or the beating given to the writer Jorge Luis Arzola in Jatibonico for attending the Literary Workshop and then, in the middle of the night, they took dragged him out of his cell and beat him again. Arzola had so many differences and grudges with the system that made them irreconcilable.

In 1994 I was a little-known writer; I was arrested and taken to the cells of State Security headquarters at Villa Marista, suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails in different places in the city. Three days and nights of interrogation made me faint. It was a dream that produced blackouts, moments of unconsciousness interrupted by shouts, threats, and shoving that I couldn’t even repulse or offer them some offense and remember that I had rights, that I was alive. Within a week I felt that death would be a pleasure.

Then, all of a sudden, they offered to let me “cooperate”: I only had to tell them who had thrown the Molotov Cocktails, “just that,” they told me. I don’t remember if I shrugged my shoulders, shook my head, or simply, in my catatonic state, they assumed my positive response. At midnight I was put out on the streets, the houses were spinning and the lights tormented me, people were looking at me like I was a drunk, but that’s to the excitement of being able to see my family, I made it home.

Several days later a plain-clothed official was walking through my neighborhood looking for me to learn some data I could give him, but he didn’t manage to find me. I had hidden in the suburb of Güinera. I hid there two months. And they waited. To their way of thinking I had failed them. They understood they wouldn’t manage to get me to give in, nor to make me understand that I would be “protected” at their side, so they moved on to Plan B.

They used every variation on me that, in the end being human, at times I asked myself if I should have collaborated; but I immediately rejected such stupidity. I never would. I knew my mother would rise from the dead to vomit in disgust. My sister would change her name. And my friends and detractors would refuse to greet me, because there is nothing more despicable than a traitor.

July 15 2011