Ladies in White

Rafael Alcides about the Official Novel against Angel Santiesteban
Posted on September 25, 2013

I present to you here the article that writer and poet Rafael Alcides
published in the blog Penúltimos Días about the judicial farce mounted
against Angel Santiesteban with the sole and hidden objective of
silencing his critical and damning voice about the Castro dictatorship.

I ask readers to read this article knowing that Rafael expresses himself
ironically but without removing one iota of the truth from what he says
about Angel, the horrible antihero into which they try to convert him,
the false testimony and the judicial manipulation and from the proxies
and scribes of infamy that the regime knew so well how to buy in order
to execute and legitimize such a dirty objective.

I believe the clarification is necessary because of the many reactions
that his first article about the topic provoked and because he already
busied himself clarifying in another article and because such bad fury
was used by the Writers of Infamy concentrated in the Cuban Writers and
Artists Union (UNEAC) in order to criminalize their colleague (and
friend in many cases) and convert him into an example of the macho,
abusive and violent man whom they should only recognize in the Castro
dictator, his minions and those men in Cuba who regrettably are violent
with women and each day pursue and brutally beat the Ladies in White and
other brave and peaceful opponents throughout the whole island.

It remains to be said that there also exists — regrettably — a large
number of men who practice domestic and gender violence. Against these
men among whom are found distinguished members of the nomenklatura,
Justice has never done anything; it would seem as if they had assumed
that violence against women and machismo are ingredients of national
folklore.

BASIC CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THE SANTIESTEBAN CASE
By Rafael Alcides

A novelist who would like to write the complex and diverse novel that is
hinted at behind the bulky “Santiesteban case,” could begin with the
presumably frightened faces that the poor magistrates who failed in said
process to know the facts that they would judge. I get it, because of my
own fear and because of what obviously brought the Women of UNEAC to
manifest their wrath. The prize-winning author Angel Santiesteban, UNEAC
Prize, Juan Rulfo Prize, House of the Americas Prize, and who physically
only would lack the horse to seem an all-powerful rodeo cowboy (The
Novelist could not describe his character), threatened his ex-wife with
death, hit her, tied her up in order to rape her in comfort and set fire
to the house.

I, who at the beginning believed it a magnified quarrel, discord,
lovers’ disagreement of the kind that so often feed the great loves
while they last (and in that respect I wrote some lines of which I now
repent), on knowing the facts in detail or supposed facts (The Novelist
will have to investigate them and take a position), I told myself: this
is not the Angel that I know. It’s not him. And searching for an
explanation for the undoubted failure of the judges, it even occurred to
me to think of witchcraft. Had not Angel been a victim of the evil eye,
one of those “hazards” of the sorcerers of the Guatemalan mountains in
the time of my childhood? Also The Novelist would ask himself, but on
finding a certain video downloaded from the internet maybe he would stop
searching in the Hereafter.

Disturbed by the disconcerting mutations in the conduct of the
protagonist in the mentioned video and main witness in the charge by the
ex-wife of Angel Santiesteban, he would scrutinize the mystery of this
young, good-looking, talkative, well-presented man who on appearing
self-pitying retracts on the video his first statements in the police
station against Angel. Regret, nothing strange, The Novelist would
think, I have read Dostoyevsky in depth, but now he would draw a blank
when he learns that later, in the trial, this same loquacious young man,
generous to the point of opulence in the details in the filming seems to
be erasing feelings of guilt that would not let him sleep, suddenly, as
if suddenly exchanged for a clone, as if a power greater than all the
witches of my childhood had placed grief over his head, he returned to
being the fundamental witness for the accuser, the enemy of Angel.

Maybe The Novelist then imagines that compassion could very well be a
named protagonist in the Case, and maybe he is wrong. As he is not The
Novelist a person who believes in evil a priori, maybe he excuses
Angel’s ex wife imagining her one of those poetic souls who end up
believing and swearing with hand placed on the fire what they invented
in one of those trances in which any of us, fantasy or not, would give
half our lives to be able to transform ourselves into nuclear weapons,
which would explain the eagerness of the ex-wife to erase her ex from
the memory of well-born people. Because if anything seems like life it
is radio novels. Not for nothing has Felix B. Caignet sometimes been as
medicinal as the Virgin of Charity in Cuba.

Seen this way, maybe the Novelist would stop by the office of the police
officer who, according to the young man in the video, began to visit the
Ex after her denunciation in the precinct and frequently began to stay
to sleep over in the house. In that case, at best it might give the
Novelist to create a mutual inoculation between both characters. She
passed him the bacillus against Angel and he to her those that would be
expected in a police officer who was not born tomorrow. But let’s not
complicate the Novelist. Let’s suppose that he has left the officer
listening at the foot of the accuser’s tales about her unhappy days with
Angel, sorrows so great and of such a kind that they moved him to pity
and he couldn’t avoid infecting the officials charged with opening the
indictment in the case, this solution would permit the Novelist to
explain the part of pity that seems to have decided the failure of the
Trial magistrates, in the first instance, and later those of the Supreme
Court.

Investigating as was his duty, The Novelist “knowing, from his time as a
psychologist, the best documented historian of his time, nonetheless
availed himself of apparent fictions in order to represent it,” could
then be aware that a few years ago, the young prize-winning author Angel
Santiesteban started to think for himself, he was then assaulted by the
unknown enthusiasts who broke his arm for educational purposes. So they
might suspect that, the Novelist, asked to identify the educators with
rebar wrapped in a newspaper so common at the repudiation rallies but
unable to confirm it, were loose ends, adrift, down the drain (but
refusing to disappear) of the old days before the Elian case, when the
Rapid Response Brigades would go out to take back the street, a task
that, in effect, these detachments would over accomplish with a subtle
but sufficient breaking of bones, lost teeth, bleeding eyes and
so-and-so’s here and there limping for weeks and some, “it’s
inevitable,” who knows, perhaps for life.

The Novelist wouldn’t like these methods. Me neither. But shouldn’t The
Novelist before judging talk to those who’ve been doing it? Perhaps then
he wouldn’t accept it, but at least he would understand these devoted
people. Or they have fought, and sometimes shed their blood in the
numerous overseas wars waged by the Cuban government in its first thirty
years in power or had elaborated all that was said and done by his
government a mystic idea so powerful that there couldn’t exist someone
on earth, in the sea or in heaven that didn’t share the idea of their
leaders. Not even in heaven. “They are heretics”, one of them said to me
once. Another one said “I would beat them to death”, and another who was
very catholic, maybe thinking of the heat from hell, with teary eyes and
the passion of a Arab who has seen his faith attacked said to me twenty
years ago, holding my hand with fervor and staring at me at a table with
two beers “I without laying a finger on them would let them fall from a
very high roof into a pool filled with boiling oil”. There was no
cruelty in the heart of those devoted people, however. There was love,
devotion and unconditional love beyond death for the government project
that constituted the reason for their life, their marrow that has
gloriously burned to say it with the poet.

In statement on the Internet, Dr. Vallín, honorable man and prestigious
attorney, claims that during the trial against Santiesteban, witnesses
were not allowed and he alleges the defense was obstructed, mentioning
laws that were not taken into account by the court. While they aren’t a
justification, the rationale of government devotees explained in the
previous paragraph, might have permitted The Novelist to understand the
irregularities observed by Dr. Vallín. The pity already stated on the
one side, and on the other that these learned men with cap and gown
should have represented the free-thinker Angel Santiesteban, still
alive, was too much. They failed.

Of course, “and The Novelist knows”, this mixture of sentimentality and
governmental loyalty that on our Island has reasons to work in the
garbage truck driver who has seen his son off to the university with a
doctorate degree, it would not be convincing abroad. It couldn’t. Those
curious people from “outside” see things differently. They still talk
about social contracts and things like that. That’s why from the
beginning I assumed, or “better, I believed in being sure” that the
government of Army General Raul Castro, looking out for the good image
of its administration in this pivotal moment in history, would do
justice to the author Angel Santiesteban. He wouldn’t allow in this
case, I thought (and I hope that with me the hypothetical Novelist
believed it) to become something else. Because any person, however
humble they may be (or seem to be) can be, nevertheless, the beginning
or the end of an era. I think about the nobody in Sarajevo who stepped
out in front of a coach.

Finally (second ending to the story: you choose) The Novelist appeared
to say, obliquely, without seeming to, in his usual subtext (and if he
wouldn’t say it, I’m telling you now so you won’t misunderstand me
again), finally, ladies and gentlemen, enough of repeating episodes, of
different dimensions but in essence like Christ, Herod and the Pharisees
of that time.

Havana, March 19, 2013

Published by Penúltimos Días

Source: “Rafael Alcides about the Official Novel against Angel
Santiesteban | Translating Cuba” –
http://translatingcuba.com/rafael-alcides-about-the-official-novel-against-angel-santiesteban/

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