HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) and Cubalex denounced Thursday the “arbitrary detention” of the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, who faces two “political trials”, to “terrorize” other Cuban artists, reported Europa Press.
Otero Alcantara was arrested “violently” on March 1 with his partner, art critic Claudia Genlui, when they both left their home in Havana. Since then he is in provisional prison, “in the hands of State Security, which means that he is being subjected to interrogations and psychological pressures.”
According to the lawyer appointed by Otero Alcantara, “two trials will be held on the same day: one summary for the alleged crime of ‘affronting national symbols’ and another rush trial for the alleged crime of ‘property damage’.” “Their file is already in court and the hearing could be imminent,” they have warned.
Otero Alcantara is part of the San Isidro Movement, which is defined as “a vanguard movement with an impact on the protection, promotion and defense of civil and cultural rights in present and future Cuba.”
“One of his last artistic gestures was to tour neighborhoods of Havana with a helmet to draw attention to the recurrent building collapses in the city, such as the one that caused the death of three young girls on January 27,” they said.
In addition, last year Otero Alcántara “promoted a protest campaign against Decree 349, approved by the Cuban Government to censor cultural events that it considers uncomfortable.”
In the last 30 months Luis Manuel has been the victim of “32 incidents of harassment, including 27 arbitrary detentions, several with the use of force and violence, the majority in incommunicado situations.” In 2019, he was arrested 15 times and in 2020 he has already been detained on four occasions.
The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights and Cubalex believe that “the Cuban regime is using this detention and court cases to terrorize other artists of the island, in particular those who manifest their art independently of the State institutions.”
For this reason, they have urged “other Cuban and world artists, associations for the defense of Human Rights and democratic governments to speak out against this new attempt by the Cuban regime to imprison an artist for his political ideas.”
Likewise, the two opposition organizations have revealed that they are preparing “joint legal actions, which will be presented in the next few hours before different international organizations.”
The Observatory and Cubalex warned that the arrest of Otero Alcantara “occurs in a context of increased repression against political opposition and independent civil society,” noting that journalists Luz Escobar and Carlos Manuel Alvarez have been questioned by State Security in recent days as well as the outspoken musician Gorki Águila.