Angel Santiesteban's New Dossier
Posted on September 26, 2014
The mechanism of annulment is cleanly bureaucratic: You can't hire an
attorney without having completed the dossier. The prosecution prepares
its case in the dungeons.
Havana, Cuba. In the doorways of Avenue Acosta, in the neighborhood of
La Vibora, some faded beings sell aluminum scouring pads, Band-Aids and
little boxes of matches. A few meters away, crossing Calzada de Diez de
Octubre – formerly Jesus del Monte – is the former police station of
Acosta and Diez de Octubre, which now advertises itself, by a lighted
sign, as a Territorial Unit of Criminal Investigation and Operations of
the Ministry of the Interior. The latest news about the writer, Angel
Santiesteban, places him in the cells of that sinister place.
Another writer, the Czech Milan Kundera, victim in his time of the same
procedures, pointed out that our only immortality exists in the archives
of the political police. In this city of changed names, where poetry is
a military choir, where the violation of human rights is called
anti-imperialism and there is thoughtless defense of socialism, and
where some nameless beings without a voice sell scouring pads in order
to eat, I think about my friend who is experiencing the same awful
Except for Daniela Santiesteban, his 18-year-old daughter, sufficiently
bewildered and frightened to not want to speak with the independent
press or the dissident friends of her father, no one else has seen him
nor can corroborate that he hasn't been maltreated, or that he really
tried to escape from prison, as the authorities say.
The Territorial Unit building has checkpoint surveillance. It seems to
be the entrance where the detainees are taken to the dungeons, which are
in the basement. Those who have left that prison say that below there
are around 70 cells. And that's where they look for confessions in all
the cases. It doesn't matter if they don't know the first thing about
the crimes that the official presents to them. The dossier can be false.
It takes time to complete, so that in order to obtain the
auto-inculpation, the false confession, no attorney can be present.
This is the beginning of total domination: The detainees can't count on
having the right to an attorney from the beginning of the charging
process. The mechanism of annulment is simply bureaucratic; you can't
hire a lawyer without having a dossier and the case number. The trial is
It's in these cells where you can be interrogated at any time, where no
family member can have access unless he's also a prisoner and where even
your diet has been thoroughly studied with the goal of crushing your
feeling of having rights. It's there that your dossier would be
assembled and the charge against you enumerated in the most total
incommunication. Hannah Arendt already said it, when in 1961 she
formulated the expression "banality of evil" as a phenomenon that is
characteristic of every dictatorship: The first essential step on the
path that leads to total domination consists of suppressing the
juridical person in Man.
There's another front entrance to the building. Going up the stairs you
arrive at a reception area that is garishly green, with a sepulchral
silence. Ornamental plants, always the same: miserable malanga vines.
Portraits of Castro and other allegorical figures of July 26 provide
ambience, so you don't have any doubt that you're in Hell. In this
mournful place, the guard refuses to answer my questions about the
situation of the detainee. He says that only his family can see him, and
that he is accused of "detainee evasion". "I'm not giving you any more
information", he concludes. The expression "detainee evasion" appears to
be nonsense. It's not clear what the accusation is. Neither does he
answer when I ask his name and military rank, in spite of the fact that
I told him, before he asked me for my identity card, who I am and what I do.
I know Angel. Before being taken to prison he had time to leave the
island, but that's not his intention. His awareness of not being guilty
of the crime that the political police fabricated in collusion with his
ex-wife, Kenia Diley Rodriguez, who had already made threats that she
was going to destroy him, made him believe until the last moment that it
wasn't possible that the authorities would go so far in the consummation
On one of those afternoons when we talked about this, he told me how at
the beginning of the whole process, neither he nor the people who would
serve as witnesses, making him believe that they would stand by him when
his accuser, Diley Rodriguez, told her story, thought it possible that a
case would be opened against him. But he armed himself with a dossier
with the case number. Later, his lawyers told him that it was impossible
that a trial would take place, because that would not be logical. And
there was a trial. And the sentence? It was announced to him previously
during a detention, by a minion of the political police named Camilo –
famous for his sadism – with the exact number of years to which he was
So that this isn't the first dossier prepared against Angel Santiesteban.
Interview with Marti News
The Lawton military settlement, which presents itself as the Ministry of
Interior Housing Construction Company, was the last place Santiesteban
was seen. So I went there to follow up. The prisoners, through a fence,
repeated to me the authorities' version, but no one could tell me that
they really saw him being transferred from the prison. They only
affirmed what the authorities said.
A friend of the writer named Reinaldo Gantes Hidalgo was "visited" by
State Security, in a move that can be part of the new judicial
fabrication, to ask him if he knew where Santiesteban was. Another
person, who asked me not to reveal his identity for fear of reprisals,
was detained for a week, accused of complicity without any evidence, but
he hadn't seen Santiesteban either. And it's clear that State Security
wouldn't spare itself some arbitrary detention with which it could
propagate the version that matches their perverted goals.
Gantes Hidalgo told me that after the visit of the son of Colome Ibarra,
the present Minister of the Interior, to the military settlement of the
regime prison, in his position as the head of the MININT Housing
Construction Company, and after the escape of a boatman, an inmate who
managed to get to Miami, three guards kept watch on Santiesteban at all
times, even when he went to the bathroom. All of which was again
inconsistent with the official version.
If there's a relationship between this visit and the increase in
vigilance, we can only deduce this from the question that Colome Jr.
asked him. With much sarcasm he questioned him about the woman who
called the Directorate-General of Jails and Prisons to denounce
Santiesteban for the possession of a laptop and a cell phone hidden
inside the prison, and about a supposed plan to escape. From there they
also started the records. With these notices it's not very probable that
Santiesteban would have improvised an escape from an island where there
are police guarding almost every corner, and boats patrolling 24 hours a
day thanks to Venezuelan oil.
All this points to a set-up. After which his son, Eduardo Santiesteban,
17 years old, conceded an interview to Karen Caballero, a journalist
from Marti News, where he denounced the manipulation of State Security
in the trial against his father. And so he began to demolish the first
dossier. Let's remember that during the trial, they used, as pretend
proof, his declaration that Angel didn't accompany him home in order to
claim, in a rare sophisticated use of ubiquity, that he found him at
home with his mother, Kenia Diley. As if by being absent from one place
he would be fatefully in another.
So that the prosecutor's maliciousness, added to the fact that trials
aren't independent, had the result of an unjust sentence based on
ridiculous reasoning, twists and lack of proof.
Until Angel Santesteban commnicates his version, we can't believe the
authorities, who are dependent on a government of which it can be said
that not only do they lie, but they also hardly ever tell the truth.
Published by Cubanet.
Have Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban, Angel
Santiesteban, a prisoner of conscience. Follow the link to sign the
Translated by Regina Anavy
18 August 2014
Source: Angel Santiesteban's New Dossier | Translating Cuba -