Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Island of the Long Shadows

The Island of the Long Shadows / Angel Santiesteban
Posted on November 17, 2014

Section 21, as this Department of State Security is known, works to
track the political activities of the opposition in the Cuban
archipelago. They are the omnipotent masters of the destinies of those
who seek democracy and freedom.

In my case, it was the official Camilo, the same one who on November
8th, 2012, after a beating in plain view of the public, told me that
they were putting me in jail for 5 years [before Angel's trial was

Three months later, I went to prison, convicted by a rigged jury, where
they didn't show a single bit of evidence against me, except that joke
by the lieutenant colonel graphologist, who acted as something like a
fortune-teller and said that given "the height and inclination of my
handwriting*," I was guilty. Of no value were the five witnesses I
presented who corroborated my statement. Not even justice is an
impediment to the designs of the political police.

Since I entered prison, it has been the State Security officials who
have manipulated my incarceration. The prison officials have always let
me know that "they are there to keep me enclosed," but that they have no
rights over my person.

If I fall ill, whether they are to approve or not the pass** that is
provided every sixty days for those serving less than 5 years,
transfers, disciplinary measures, or for any other motive, they are to
call Section 21 and there they will be instructed as to what is to be
done with me.

Of course, it was those authorities in that very same Section 21 who
gave the go-ahead for my transfer from the Valle Grande prison to La
Lima camp, in keeping with my sentence (as I am not supposed to be in
prison); from there to prison #1580 (in a new violation of my rights);
later, to the Lawton settlement; and now, to the Guardafronteras (Border
Patrol) unit, where I am currently held.

According to the prison officials, they are supposed to consult with the
officials of Section 21 at each step in my process. They have retained
the appeal of my case, delivered at the Ministry of Justice on July 4,
2013, for more than a year. This is because if justice were to be
applied, they would have to release me immediately, as requested by my
attorney, given my proven innocence. Instead, they gather an extensive
list of flagrant violations that, as my defense attorney at the time
said after the trial, left me "in a state of utter defenselessness."

I have stated before that murderers, drug traffickers, pederasts, and
others who have committed grave crimes, are treated with the utmost
mercy compared to the stance the authorities have taken toward my
person, for they treat me according to the strictest of their laws.

At this time they have me cloistered inside a Border Patrol Troops unit,
in a small apartment with two rooms and a bath. It is completely barred
and there is a guard at the door who records in a log the hour at which
I rise, if I take exercise, if I write, etc.

In addition, this small apartment made into a prison cell includes a
patio that, in my honor, was completely enclosed in bars – even on the
roof – just hours before they decided to transfer me to this place.

However, even while bearing every suffering that their impediments
cause, I feel proud to be treated thus. Not even the worst of their
measures against me will cause me to back down from my struggle for a
more just country — a country in which free expression against the
politics laid down by the powers-that-be will not be cause for imprisonment.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Border Patrol Unit Prison. Havana. October, 2014.

Translator's notes:

*A handwriting expert literally testified at Angel's trial that his "too
slanted" handwriting proved he was a guilty person.

**In an earlier post Angel explained the Cuban penal system that allows
prisoners with shorter sentences to leave prison every so many days for
extended (overnight) home visits. He was granted one of these passes
when he was in the Lawton Settlement, a work camp, but future passes
were withheld.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison, and others.

10 November 2014

Source: The Island of the Long Shadows / Angel Santiesteban |
Translating Cuba -

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