Day-10 Hostage for Cuban Artist Luis Manuel Otero

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara. Photo: Maria Matienzo, taken from the Facebook page of the San Isidro Movement.

HAVANA TIMES – The San Isidro Movement (MSI) has made a public statement warning about the situation of its leader, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, admitted into the Calixto Garcia hospital against his will. 

After nine days of hospitalization, MSI explained that it has very little information about Luis Manuel, about his current health, physical and psychological condition. The little information they have about him has come from his blood family. It’s through them that they know that Otero Alcantara “is in a stable condition, is drinking liquids, but is sticking to his demands.”

On May 2nd, State Security burst into his home/studio, where Otero had been holding a hunger and thirst strike for a week, and he was taken to the hospital against his will. Ever since then, the Calixto Garcia hospital and its surrounding streets have been militarized. Those who have unsuccessfully tried to visit him have suffered police abuse and have been interrogated.

MSI has been demanding to see Luis Manuel, based on the argument that “hospitalization does not prohibit cellphone use by a patient, nor does it prohibit visits from friends and other relatives.”

The Movement, which defines itself as an advocacy group for human rights and individual rights, warns that government videos that have been shown of the artist, violate all data protection protocols of a hospitalized patient and citizen, and only reflect the authentic and human actions of a person who has been mercilessly persecuted by a totalitarian state.”

Other harassed activists

MSI recognizes that these attacks are not only limited to Otero Alcantara, but also apply to all dissidents. It’s a procedure that many activists have documented, which implies: “Forced isolation at home, with the street of the residence being under military control. Telephone and internet services cut to increase the prison sensation… arrests and forced disappearances; harassment and threats to activists’ family members; beatings and maltreatment during arrests and in jail; prosecution for Public Disorder, Instigation to crime and resistance.”

Why was Luis Manuel on a hunger and thirst strike?

Otero demands that the authorities return his art works that State Security stole from him when they violently broke into his house, prior to his hunger strike. He also demands that they lift the police siege that he has had on him for months, treating him worse than a murderer.

Luis Manuel has been detained, interrogated, and threatened more than a dozen times. Apparently, his art demanding freedom and an end to repressive laws against artists and others who differ from government policies, has the authorities more concerned than the severe shortages of food and basic medicines suffered by the vast majority of the Cuban people.

Read more from Cuba here in Havana Times.


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