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realclearworld

Reports from Cuba: Harassment in Cuba simply for thinking differently

By Angel Santiesteban in Translating Cuba:

Harassment in Prison Simply for Thinking Differently

When on August 2 last year I was transferred from Prison 1580 and brought to the “Lawton Settlement,” a Ministry of Interior (MININT) enterprise dedicated to building the houses of its officials, they let me know that in this place there would be no visits nor phone calls. They urged me to work as a method of re-education and I would obtain the benefit of being able to get a leave every twenty-seven days. I immediately chose not to accept. Then they made me know that it would be every sixty days. I shrugged my shoulders. We are a group of twenty prisoners, among them are the crimes of “drug trafficking,” “murder,” “scams,” “arms trafficking,” “economic crimes,” “trafficking in persons,” etc.

In the daytime at the site there are a lieutenant colonel, who is the unit chief, and a captain in charge of production, both semi-retired, who perform the activities and with the power corresponding to their grades and jobs.

At five in the afternoon, at the latest, those responsible leave for home and we’re left with a civilian guard who puts a padlock on the barracks at ten in the evening. In a month through brought in another civilian to staff both ends of the establishment. The next month they sent in a sergeant who also stayed until five PM.

I continued to write my denunciations.

Then they placed a uniform who will keep us under guard twenty-four hours. Last night they brought in another. That is, in four months since I came, in addition to those already here, they have quadrupled surveillance on me. Now at night we have two guards and two soldiers, although the other nineteen aren’t in the unit for six days, they’re home. All for me alone!

So, the murderers and arms and drug traffickers have gone home to their families. However, the leadership has decided, unhealthily, to reinforce the surveillance against me obviously. Since the new uniform has come, he looks at me suspiciously. I feel his gaze on my back watching every movement I make, and when I’m in my bed, I see him watching me through the window to know where I am.

Obviously, they see me as a dangerous guy. The fear ideas more than firearms, drug traffickers or financial theft. However, I don’t complain about their sieges. With the cold blood I inherited from my mother I smiled.

This is my place as long as there’s a dictatorship.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. January 2014.

Editor’s note: The 19 prisoners left on six-day passes on Friday, 3 January 2014.

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