Hunger strike in Cuba
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    If it were up to them, they’d shoot me

    If it were up to them, they’d shoot me / Angel Santiesteban
    Posted on January 20, 2015

    Warning: The regime in Havana has prepared a new legal trap for Ángel.

    As is already public knowledge, Ángel Santiesteban has been held in a
    military border patrol base in Jaimanitas since August 13. He was placed
    there after several days of detention in the Acosta Police Station,
    following his surrender after having taken 5 of the 15 pass days that he
    had accumulated since his incarceration in the Lawton prison.

    The night before taking his days, on 20 July, Ángel used his blog to
    denounce the great rumors circulating about his imminent transfer to the
    border patrol base for purposes of isolating him. This was after his son
    had declared, on Miami’s TV Marti on July 15, that as a child he had
    been manipulated by his mother and State Security to force him to lie
    and hurt his father.

    After turning himself in and having been held for days in police station
    cells with no nourishment, he was taken to a location such as he
    denounced in that post. He is kept there in isolation, where his rights
    to visits and calls are ignored. He has no physical space so vitally
    needed so that he can keep himself healthy. To demand his right, Ángel
    declared a hunger strike for a period of days. We learned of this
    because Lilianne Ruíz, of 14yMedio newspaper, was able to interview him
    from outside the detention facility.

    We barely have news of him, because he wants to say very little by
    telephone, and his jailers do not allow him to send letters or post on
    his blog. Every time he manages to get one out, it becomes a major feat
    and it takes very long to reach us. This is such that just this past
    weekend, I received a letter from October and another from the 15th of

    Of course, he tells me nothing in them about the incidents and motives
    that caused him to go on the hunger strike in recent days. But he does
    tell me that although the request for an appeal (made on the 4th of July
    of 2013) of his case was accepted, nothing has been done to move it
    forward. This is more grave than it appears.

    As all of you have read in the press these days, the Cuban government–in
    a clear move to “look good” for its negotiations with the US before the
    imminent collapse of the aid that it receives from president Nicolás
    Maduro of Venezuela–has let go about 20 political prisoners. That is,
    the government has not freed them–they have let them go into house
    arrest to await their pending trials. The most well-known case is that
    of Sonia Garro, who with her husband and another peaceful activist, had
    been held for 31 months without trial.

    Ángel’s case is equally notorious because not only did his son declare
    what truly happened–thus dismantling the judicial farce that was
    invented to lock up and silence Ángel–but in addition, he already served
    a third of his sentence (in April he will have served half)–and he
    should have been released pending his new trial. At the least, they
    should give him a conditional release in April. However this is
    something they will not do–given the recent releases from which they
    excluded Ángel, they made abundantly clear their eagerness to keep him
    locked up as punishment for his oppositional stance.

    Having consulted with legal experts, we have learned that it is possible
    that the regime is preparing a new legal trap for Ángel. Conditional
    release is given to persons who have already served part of their
    sentence, but who do not have anything pending in relation to their trial.

    In Ángel’s case, having requested an appeal, they could remove his right
    to a conditional release, claiming that it is necessary to wait until
    the opinion is rendered regarding the appeal.

    In addition, we have learned through various sources that in the
    artistic and intellectual sphere in Cuba it is widely remarked that
    high-level functionaries of the regime who are politically and
    culturally connected have privately said that Ángel “will be made to
    serve his full sentence to that he will be well-punished.”

    Bearing in mind what Ángel himself told 14Ymedio (that the prison
    guards, responding to his demands, had told him to hold his horses
    because he had already done a lot of damage to the Revolution and that
    if he had accepted the offer of exile made at that time he would not
    find himself in prison now)–and also the political prisoner releases of
    this week (that sought to improve the government’s terrible image due to
    its repression and detentions of dissidents on December 10,
    International Human Rights Day)–this report, plus the analysis by the
    legal expert, takes on a maximum significance.

    Ángel’s helplessness is absolute, now that his son also is in danger for
    having defied the government by telling the truth–and also because Ángel
    is unable to post his updates on what is happening with his.

    Thank God, 14Ymedio was able to obtain his own words on what he is going
    through. We express our gratitude to Lilanne Ruíz for following Ángel’s
    circumstances so closely.

    The post below is what Ángel sent me in his last letter. When he wrote
    it, he had no idea that Sonia Garro would be released. He still doesn’t
    know it. If he did, he would be overjoyed that she is able is to
    celebrate the holidays with her daughter, and he would have said so.

    The children of Ángel will have another Christmas without their father.
    Ángel will have another Christmas alone and isolated.

    The Castro clan will have another Christmas illegitimately usurping
    power and enjoying the privileges it robbed from the people.

    The dictator brothers will have another Christmas violating with
    impunity the rights of all Cubans.

    The Editor

    If it were up to them, they would shoot me.

    by Angel Santiesteban

    In this border patrol military base where they now have me shut away and
    isolated, I am behind bars that reach to the roof of the patio, and I am
    guarded 24hrs/day, but not even that or anything else will be enough to
    make me back down from my goal to live in a free country, something that
    I do not know, even at my 48 years of age.

    Regardless, it appears that they are learning that there is no way to
    make me change my opinion. I believe in God, and the time in prison has
    not been for naught, it has a purpose and God willing I am close to
    knowing what that is, not just for me but for my country and my family.

    This is a struggle that has no room for half-measures but,
    unfortunately, many Cubans prefer to forget about those of us who are
    imprisoned, so as to not incur problems for themselves with the government.

    Contrary to what many believe, the fighting spirit grows in jail because
    there will never be a better place to know the injustices a dictatorship
    commits within them such as the threats, the abuses and tramplings such
    as they wreaked upon me in La Lima prison and later in Prison #1580,
    where they would tie my feet and hands to make me ingest something foul
    which, I suppose, or they supposed, was nourishment.

    At that point my strength increased and kept me going. With the smell of
    battle, blood flows with more force like a wild and untamable horse that
    rides through the veins.

    Then they are the ones who fear, they turn away from our gaze, they
    avoid confronting us because the truth spoken in our face is more
    effective than their blows. They are the cowards because they believe
    that this is the most effective method to dampen our demands–without
    further justification, according to their logic, because they imagine
    that were they in our position, they would give up.

    And this is their great deceit, the question they cannot answer, when
    they see our strength grow. When one has right on their side, a great
    part of the battle is already won.

    Now, with more justification and strength for the battle because I have
    known more closely the injustice of the tyranny and the constant love
    and support that provide the confidence needed to remain in combat, I
    know why they don’t want Sonia Garro or me to be free, because we were
    too ’impudent’–perhaps that is the right word, to not use a vulgar term.

    We faced down the political police–I on that 8th of November of 2014,
    when they beat me and it was seen on that video that fortunately went
    viral around the world and later the open letter that I addressed to
    Raúl Castro demanding the release of Antonio Rodiles. Sonia and I are
    intolerable for the government–especially so with she being of the
    Ladies in White and I an intellectual, we do not fit the mold that is
    extremely acceptable to them. They know that we do not fear them.

    I don’t know how the government officials are not ashamed (but this
    would be asking the impossible) to still repeat the list of grave
    accusations that they laid on me, and then later they kept the two least
    serious ones, while the ’flaming witness’ for the prosecution and the
    accuser assured them that all were false.

    I continue to wait in vain for the appeal that my attorney requested. If
    it were up to them, they would shoot me, but because they can’t, because
    times are different, then they have no other recourse but to keep me

    On the other hand, they are gaining time, they are buying it so that
    Raúl Castro can serve out his term and somebody new can come in–some
    other Castro, surely, because the Castros will not relinquish power. I
    believe that they will not want to risk their position even with a
    puppet government that they control from behind the scenes.

    While they ’take their time,’ here remain shut away those of us like
    Sonia and me, who have no fear, and who they have not succeeded in
    bringing to our knees.

    Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

    Border Patrol Prison Unit. Havana. October, 2014

    Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

    14 December 2014

    Source: If it were up to them, they’d shoot me / Angel Santiesteban |
    Translating Cuba –

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