Prison Diary LV: A "Royal Taster" in Solidarity? / Angel Santiesteban
Posted on September 26, 2013
I overstepped the first six months in prison, paying for the attempt to
give the dictatorship a lesson through my opposition to its hold on
power. This is the price they found to make me pay, and this is the
response that, all things considered, I offer them.
Since my imprisonment on February 28 of the current year, I finished the
novels "The Summer When God Was Sleeping,"* and "God Plays Dice," edited
the novel "Johnny Million," and I wrote a second part, entirely in
pencil, and wrote a book of stories, almost finished, "Zone of Silence,"
with eighteen stories. I started a period novel, set at the end of 1807,
before Napoleon invaded Spain, and at the same time I'm working on a
script for television, all without abandoning the posts for my blog,
"The Children Nobody Wanted," and added to this there are two novel
projects awaiting their time to be born.
Looking at it with a cool head, I have to thank my keepers for their
injustice in having imprisoned me with the intention of breaking me. I
acknowledge that, thanks to them, I can see with my own eyes the
terrible suffering from the inhuman treatment suffered by the
incarcerated population in Cuba. And know that when it seems that hope
is extinguished, a human being approaches, suffering like you, and
offers you his hand.
A few days ago, after offering the inmates the usual egg or picadillo**,
they gave them chicken — an infinitesimal quantity if we compare to that
received by the spies imprisoned in the United States, and that they
have the luxury of criticizing if they've already been served chicken
that week***, which amuses Cuban prisoners — and after the inmates
looked for their respective scrap of chicken, an inch and a half cube,
including the bone, a gentleman who one day revealed his name, on
learning that in my six months I have never accepted food prepared in
the prison, offered to test my ration before me, imagining that I
rejected it for fear that they would add something to it that with time
would cause cancer or some other illness, as their masters in the Soviet
KGB were accustomed to doing.
Of course, I said no, but I couldn't help but be moved. "I'm already
old," he insisted, "I could die and nothing would happen; but you help
my grandchildren with your struggle, you work for their welfare, and
perhaps there is time to avoid that one of them risks their life on the
sea to get to Miami."
Again, I thanked him for his gesture, assuring him that I would never
forget it. In his eyes was a that stubbornness for saving me, from his
point of view, knowing of the mysterious and improbable deaths of Laura
Pollán, Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero among others.
"No doubt they can hurt me," I told him, "but I don't eat the food for
moral integrity." Then, against his will, he went to the dining room.
I added another friend to my harvest, a Cuban who woke up from the
alienation in which the inhabitants of this archipelago, when Fidel
Castro offered dreams in exchange for their lives, without warning them,
of the probable nightmare in which their existences would be converted.
Lawton Prison settlement. September 2013
Note from the Editor: Angel sent me this post a few days before he fell
ill with dengue. His fellow prisoner, evidently, already harbored fears
about his safety. It is encouraging to know that in prison there is also
someone who is attentive to his "fate."
*Winner of the International Franz Kafka Novels of the Drawer 2013
Prize, in the Czech Republic.
**"Picadillo" means "minced meat" but in Cuba is often means "minced
***The story circulated that the Cuban spies imprisoned in the United
States complained about the frequency with which chicken is served.
25 September 2013
Source: "Prison Diary LV: A "Royal Taster" in Solidarity? / Angel
Santiesteban | Translating Cuba" -