The Bullies That Castro Sent to Panama / Angel Santiesteban

Screen capture from Cuban State television. Caption: “Mercenaries [i.e. independent human rights activists] attack the Cuban delegation in Panama.”
For a few seconds you could see the video on Telesur of the blows given by the official Cuban delegates in Panama. I managed to see, and it’s the gesture I remember the most, a man who, above the rest, attacked with his fist, exercising brutal force, and I remembered that on November 8, 2012, when I was in front of the Acosta police station, members of Cuban State Security beat me for demanding freedom for Antonio Rodiles, who was detained in jail there.

Beating Cuban dissidents is a daily practice. They can’t avoid doing what they always do. It’s their instinct, their Castrista education.

Mysteriously, those seconds of the image of the altercation that Telesur showed were not repeated. A call from their politicians censured them. For its part, Cuba, through its media of communication, affirmed that the disturbance was started by the opposition, but it’s not what the cameras picked up.

When the Cuban Book Fair took place in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2002, the same thing happened. The Cuban envoys packed the room for the presentation of “Free Writing” and attacked the exhibitors.

We know it’s the way the rulers and their stooges think. They operate without any political conscience, only for the gifts they receive from those in power.

And what is happening in the media reports of the Obama-Castro conversations doesn’t make me suspect the Cuban side, because they are who they are, and nobody can change them. I distrust the North American side; I ask myself what they really are looking for, because I haven’t seen an iota of progress nor interest from the Dictator, except that of hanging onto power with the money he thinks he will earn once the embargo is lifted.

If it’s a matter of consistency, I don’t see a positive path for these erroneous negotiations because they were conceived, from their birth, as a deformed and retarded creature. While Washington and Havana lose time in delayed conversations, Cuban dissidents continue to resist unjust incarceration and the constant beatings.

I don’t know if Obama will abandon us or not, but I’m convinced that God remains on our side.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Border Control Prison, Havana. April 2015.

Translated by Regina Anavy