Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Their Ángel becomes their devil, or Saturn devours another of its children

Who is Ángel Santiesteban & why is he going to prison today? 

Ángel Santiesteban Prats is an award-winning Cuban writer and member of the official Cuban Writer's Union (UNEAC) who has become increasingly critical in his writings and on his blog, ‘The Children Nobody Wanted’ (‘Los Hijos que Nadie Quiso’) over the past decade, focusing on the lack of fundamental freedoms in Cuba.

He was convicted late last year on trumped up charges based on coerced testimonies of "trespassing" and "injury." In fact, he is being targeted with a five-year prison sentence because the Cuban government wants to use his case to send a chilling message to his artist and intellectual peers:

The Revolution does not forgive or forget its "children" - especially those whom it has praised and prized - who turn their backs on "all that" and begin to think for themselves. 

To add your name to the petition demanding his release, GO HERE.

Yesterday, there were just over 200 signatures, today there are 788!  Let's send Ángel a strong message of support and let the Cuban government know that we are watching!

The important facts of his case - all corroborated below - are these:
  • He was variously charged or accused of having run over a child. When no child -- dead or alive -- could be found, they had to drop that charge. 
  • He was charged with raping his ex-wife. She later retracted saying State Security threatened her and made her accuse him. 
  • He was charged with beating his ex-wife; she and the neighbor who supposedly saw her after she was beaten both recanted, the neighbor on video to which there's a link below. 
  • He was told what his sentence was going to be by a State Security agent while assaulting him, before the trial (a photo of his bloodied shirt after the beating is below). 
  • Charges carrying 54 (or 154, accounts vary) years were largely dropped and he was ultimately convicted of "trespassing" and "injury" and sentenced to 5 years, which he is to begin serving today. 
  • In what has become a hashtag phrase, evidence against him at the trial included his handwriting -- "oddly slanted" and "too big". 

People ask why would the government single him out? Why do they hate him so much to do this to him? The answer is simple: Turncoats are hated most of all. He's won nearly every important national literature prize, at least one twice. He's won prizes abroad. He's been sent to conferences abroad. He was "their" writer, a favorite son on their side against the world. And he turned on them. They hate him and those ungrateful children like him with a special revolutionary hatred.

To add your name to the petition demanding his release, GO HERE.

* * *

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

El huracán Yoani arrastra Brasil

Below is a passage (in Spanish) quoting Yoani Sánchez from the blog Vida y Estilo, by the Colombian woman Sarah Castro Lizarazo, who lives in Sao Paulo. 

But before you read any further, I URGE you watch this 5-minute video clip from Terra (one of many available at their site) where Yoani explains her position on the embargo, Guantánamo, and "The Five" with a bit more incisiveness and clarity than she did when speaking before the Brazilian congress (especially in relation to the last issue).

Yoani visitó un par de ciudades de Bahía y este jueves, ya en Sao Paulo, asisitó a un evento organizado por el diario Estadão del que quedaron varias 'frases para el recuerdo'.  Éstas son las que más llamaron la atención:
"No creo que en Cuba haya un socialismo ni que estemos cerca del comunismo (…) Yo creo que en Cuba vivimos bajo un capitalismo de Estado, un capitalismo de clan familiar donde el patrón no es el rico, el terrateniente, ni el burgués sino el Gobierno". 
"El gobierno de Raúl Castro tiene un pecado original y es que no ha sido electo: heredó el gobierno por vía sanguínea -como un reino-. El gobierno de mi país se traslada de uno al otro a través del árbol genealógico y en pleno Siglo XXI me parece algo soprendentemente absurdo". 
"Yo soy una persona bastante crítica con el embargo. En primer lugar porque pienso que no ha funcionado (…) No explotó en las calles, ni en una rebeldía de cambio sino en la emigración. Además, me parece que se ha convertido en el gran argumento que tiene el Gobierno para explicarlo todo. Entonces si no podemos emitir una opinión, es porque el imperio está cerca y nos ataca; si no hay tomate, es por culpa del imperio; si las papas de esta temporada se malograron, es por culpa del imperio. Quisiera ver cómo va a funcionar mi Gobierno sin ese argumento, ver a qué le van a echar la culpa". 
"Recuerdo muy bien los documentos de Wikileaks en los que se menciona mi nombre y no hay ninguno ne el que diga 'Yoani Sánchez es de la CIA'. Eso es totalmente falso, eso no existe. No podría existir porque no soy de la CIA". 
"Las manifestaciones son el precio de la opinión, el precio del silencio es el que no me gusta. Necesitamos aprender a discutir sin odiarnos, la democracia es aprender a reconocer opiniones diferentes".

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Revolution Recodified: Digital Culture & the Public Sphere in Cuba

Go here for tickets and the full program.
Keynote address by Yoani Sánchez,
Friday, March 15, 4:30 p.m.

La bloguera cubana Yoani Sánchez prepara visita a Nueva York

La bloguera Cubana Yoani Sánchez estará muy pronto en los Estados Unidos. Celia Mendoza de la VOA habló desde la Gran Manzana con Ted Henken quien esta trabajando con ella en la planeación de este viaje.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Around the World in 80 Days (& 140 characters)

A tryptic of a citizen victory

A tryptic of a single day, 
the culmination of a citizen victory,
long fought for and well deserved.

(Adalberto Roque, AFP)

 (Desmond Boylan, Reuters)

(Adalberto Roque, AFP)
with a little help from Instagram!

(Adalberto Roque, AFP)

(Adalberto Roque, AFP)

(Edmar Melo, EFE)

All of the above photos - save one - were taken in the José Martí International Airport by the intrepid AFP photographer Adalberto Roque.  The final final one of Yoani Sánchez arriving in Recife, Brazil, was taken by Edmar Melo, EFE.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

@YoaniSanchez & @OLPL in NYC & DC

(Photo borrowed from CafeFuerte).

If all goes according to plan (and it rarely does), a little over a month from now, the intrepid and long-denied Cuban bloggers Yoani Sánchez and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (see his blogs here and here) will arrive in New York City and also travel to Washington, DC for a whirlwind week of symposia, press conferences, interviews, and presentations.  I'm sure there will also be many laughs, hugs, and lots of tears of joy and disbelief.

They come -in the words of Yoani-, "to learn and return."  Let's hope they do (and are allowed to do) just that!

Café Fuerte just published a detailed description of their itinerary in Spanish.

They are coming to NYC participate in a symposium organized by the Cuban-American performance artist and New School professor Coco Fusco along with many friends (including Chris Stover, Ariana Hernández, Ana Dopico, Odette Cisneros, Pablo Menéndez, Nitin Sawhney, Tom Werner, John Kelly, and your humble servant).  The event is set for March 15-17 and is entitled:

"The Revolution Recodified: 
Digital Culture and the Public Sphere In Cuba"

It is being co-sponsored by NYU and kicked off at its King Juan Carlos Center at 4:00 p.m., Friday afternoon, March 15.  Go here to get your FREE tickets and to view the full program.

Over the course of the better part of a week (March 15-21), I will have the distinct pleasure of helping to host and interpret for Yoani and Orlando both at the NY symposium and at a number of other events they have planned throughout the city and in the nation's capital.  

Tentative events in NYC are planed for Monday, March 18 at Yeshiva University's Cardozo Law School (they recently visited Antonio Rodiles, Yoani, and friends in Havana), the HQ of HuffPo Live, and CUNY's City College.

Other events will take place in Washington, D.C., on March 19 and 20, including panels at Georgetown University and the Cato Institute, among other venues TBA.

Of course, you can follow @YoaniSanchez on Twitter to be sure that she is indeed allowed to get on that plane to Brazil on February 17.  Follow me @ElYuma or check my blog to get updates on her and Orlando Luis' itinerary as it unfolds.

Yoani will head on to Amsterdam at the end of her heady week on the East Coast, while Orlando will remain in NYC for a few weeks before beginning his own sold out 36-city tour of the lower 48!