I’m partial. Ángel Santiesteban is my friend. For more than twenty years when he was famous in the national literary workshop meeting held at the Bailen beach in Pinar del Rio, not for his literary virtues, later validated by prizes including the Casa de las Americas, no. Santiesteban was an unknown young man sitting in the background without being involved in discussions.
Presiding over that storytelling workshop was a writer much better known than Santiesteban — and than most of the people there — conceited and weighty. I will not mention any names, because what happens next in the case is the invaluable polysemic anecdote. The unnamed writer hammered the workshoppers with his translations, publications and prizes, to reinforce the phrase that doomed him: “If you don’t like it, blow me.”
He seemed to have made it clear to his young apprentice who was who in the literary hierarchy, when from the back, an unaffected and perfectly audible voice arose: “I’d rather blow you than read you.”
The unmentioned felt the need to respond to the affront with anger, and despite being attacked from behind, Santiesteban dealt him a blow that left his mark on the other guy’s face.
We’ve never seen each other regularly over the years, but always with affection. And now I’m filled with dismay by the possibility that my friend is facing five years imprisonment after a process full of irregularities.
My request to all of good will, but above all his colleagues: We advocate for the establishment of the truth, never forgetting the verses of Martin Niemoeller: and when they come for us, no one is left to protest.
February 8 2013