I´m going to write this post knowing very well very few will read it. We live in a broken down world, and nobody cares anyway. But when one reads and sees how awful things can get, it´s hard to get inspired to write sarcasm and cynical jokes.
Angel Santiesteban is a Cuban political prisoner, was jailed for writing against the Castro dictatorship in a blog he started in 2008 (The Children Nobody Wanted). The regime claims he´s a criminal, they used trumped up charges to jail him, but the trial, as are all trials in Cuba, was a sham.
Angel Santiesteban, photo by Ernesto Santana
The original blog contents have disappeared, and my antivirus reports the current site using the name “loshijosquenadiequiere” (the children nobody wanted) is suspect of being infected by malware. I suppose it´s probably hacked by the Cuban regime.
But Santiesteban´s writings were somehow rescued and are available in scattered blogs and sites. I had a site checked carefully and was able to access his writings starting in 2009, and I copy an excerpt from one of his posts here:
The Children Nobody Wanted: Jan 25, 2010
“After the events at the Havana psychiatric hospital (Mazorra), and under pressure from the international press coverage, the State admitted in a brief press release that twenty-six patients had died from hypothermia (doctors and family members believe the figure exceeds forty). The press release was silent about the hunger, desolation and overcrowding they endured in their windowless pavilions, and about the food. Generally they had soup or oatmeal, with any luck it was hot, at five o’clock in the afternoon; this was dinner, the last food until breakfast.
Photograph of one of the dead patients, leaked
out of Cuba by blogger Yoani Sanchez and
published by the Huffington Post (link is below).
Days earlier, at the Superior Institute of Art (ISA), the students rioted because of starvation. Enduring the hardships in exchange for graduating became a distant, perhaps impossible, goal; their bodies demand food. And these are the children nobody wants, young, inexperienced and defenseless, in many ways like the mental patients and the rest of the Cuban population, with only one weapon: art.
They rebelled and demanded better attention. They ignored the Rector and the rest of the faculty who demanded they return to their right minds. They had, in fact, been a little crazy to confront the machinery of the State. These young people, literally, were crazy from hunger. But they used whatever sanity their hunger had left them to launch a protest; perhaps, had they not seized the moment, today they would be a cipher, cold and forgotten like the twenty-six mental patients.
There would have to be a study done to know whether hunger makes us crazy, or crazy people are hungry. Cuban society has become crazy hungry people, or vice versa. the truth is that starvation touches the people more and more strongly.
In both cases, something happened. The day following the riot at ISA the food improved as did the interior lighting in the buildings. And at the Mazorra hospital, they also began bringing in trucks with supplies: food, blankets, medicines, maintenance workers, etc.
And everything coincided with our planes providing doctors, field hospitals, food and medicine for our Haitian brothers. What one can infer is the existence of warehouses with these supplies, saved for use only the case of emergencies. Like when a baby cries: it is given the breast.
In fifty years, the Cuban “Revolution” has been more concerned with its image abroad than, in reality, the welfare of its people. The internationalist policies have been no more than a justification for attracting converts to the cause, a positive and humanitarian image with a huge dose of hypocrisy and deceit, rather than a selfless endeavor to help others.
Ultimately, a State that respected itself could not bear the weight on its conscience of not having saved the mentally ill; the only honorable course is to resign. And those who support it, its ministers, repressive forces and acolytes in general should have the moral obligation to resign and give up their perks; but of course this alone would make them fear ending up on the list of the unprotected. Those who are afraid to pay the same price as the mental patients.
And in this government, I for one, fail to see the selfless, those who are disposed to give up their advantages out of shame. Perhaps we will wake up one morning to find eleven million Cubans dead of hypothermia and hunger. Though something makes me believe that a great part of these people have already lost their neurons to hypothermia and Statism–that is the State’s determination to exercise complete control over all things Cuban.”
The safe site I visited is here:
The link to the corpse´s photograph is here:
Reporters without Borders asks for Santiesteban´s release
A year after Santiesteban was jailed, Reporters without Borders issued the following comuniqué:
“Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Angel Santiesteban-Prats, a writer who completes a year in detention today and who began a blog in 2008 called Los hijos que nadie quiso that was openly critical of the government.
Santiesteban-Prats was arrested on 28 February 2013 to begin serving the five-year jail sentence on trumped-up charges of “home violation” and “injuries” that he received at the end of a hasty and arbitrary trial on 8 December 2012. No hard evidence was produced in support of the charges.
After his first six weeks in detention, he was transferred on 9 April 2013 to a prison in the Havana suburb of San Miguel del Padrón where he was repeatedly subjected to acts of mistreatment and torture.
Reporters Without Borders learned on 18 February that the National Association of Law Offices (ONBC) has suspended his lawyer, Amelia Rodríguez Cala, for six months, considerably hampering her efforts to obtain his release.
Rodríguez also defends other dissidents, including the musician Gorki Aguila and Sonia Garro of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), a group formed by wives, daughters and other close relatives of imprisoned dissidents that demonstrates peacefully for their release. The European Parliament awarded it the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2005.
“We already criticized the draconian and cruel treatment of Santiesteban-Prats and other independent news providers a year ago,” said Reporters Without Borders head of research Lucie Morillon. “We urge the Cuban authorities to overturn his conviction and free him at once.”
“The intimidation to which journalists are constantly subjected in Cuba is extremely worrying. Cuba is ranked lower than any other country in the Americas in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index – 170th out of 180 countries.”
For those who want to go vacation in Cuba, I suggest you go, ask a taxi driver to take you to the Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital in Havana (it will be relatively close to your hotel). Stand outside, have your photograph taken there, and post it on Twitter.
Or you may wish to do like the MIT Alumni did, and visit the Art School where the Children Who Nobody Wanted lived. Here´s an excerpt from their travel schedule to Cuba in early January 2015:
MIT Alumni become thoroughly acquainted with Cuba:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 13: HAVANABegin today with a visit to the Instituto Superior de Arte, where a guided visit of Cuba’s leading art school has been arranged. There will also be a chance to view the students’ artwork and chat with the students and professors. Lunch is at a local restaurant.