Imprisoned Artist Luis Manuel Otero Terrifies the Cuban Government

Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. File photo: EFE

They say he is ‘social danger and must remain in prison’ indefinetly until his trial.

Por 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES – The Prosecutor’s Office has rejected the request for a change in the precautionary measures for the artist and member of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, considering that he is a “social danger.” In a statement released this Monday through Facebook, the group reports that the activist’s lawyer received the notification denying Luis Manuel the provisional release requested almost a month ago. The court said he must remain imprisoned until the date of his trial, still not set.

“This fact does not surprise anyone because it has already occurred historically when they have tried human rights defenders in total arbitrariness. And more recently they continue to do so in the ’performative’ and cruel trials in which the system has sentenced hundreds of Cuban citizens just for exercising on July 11th (11J) their constitutional rights in the public spaces that belong to them,” affirms the San Isidro Movement.

According to the group, the artist is currently “in a total state of vulnerability, sick and every day more psychologically damaged. The damages that the Cuban government has caused him are already irreversible.”

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara has been in the Guanajay prison, Artemisa, since the July 11 protests. The artist was accused of public disorder, instigation to commit a crime and contempt when, in April 2021, he attended a birthday party in which the residents of the neighborhood where he resides ended up singing Patria y Vida. Although he was at liberty awaiting trial, he was detained during the summer protests when he was sent to prison.

In addition, in 2019 he was also accused of “outrage against national symbols” for a performance with a Cuban flag, although the case was dismissed in 2020.

“It is regrettable that the arbitrariness to which Luis Manuel is being subjected continues. The cruelty towards him continues by the agents of the Cuban state. Luis is an artist, a human being who has not harmed anyone, he has only made use of his right to freedom of expression to raise your voice for all of us,” adds the message published yesterday by the MSI.

The post adds that the artist is relieved since he knows that Esteban Rodriguez is out of jail despite the forced exile to which he is subjected, but that “his concern for Maykel [Castillo Osorbo] increases with each passing day, mainly because he also is sick in prison.”

The repression that the State has exercised since 2018 against Otero Alcántara began to worsen in November 2020, when he began a hunger and thirst strike together with several activists to demand the release of rapper Denis Solís. The action ended with the the police, on November 26, storming the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement in Old Havana, where the members of the group were entrenched, and the arrest of the 14 activists who were inside the building.

This event prompted the protest of a group of artists and intellectuals on November 27 at the entrance of the Ministry of Culture to ask for solutions from the authorities of the sector. Two months later, the events led to a new dispute in which officials ended up coming to blows against the protesters.

At the end of April, Otero Alcántara once again declared a hunger and thirst strike to demand an end to the police siege of his home. State Security entered his home at dawn and transferred him to the Calixto García Hospital, where he remained for a month controlled by the security forces without explanations.

The artist was named one of the 100 most influential people of the year by Time magazine.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

 



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