“I’m a vulnerable man, but I am especially an artist that dreams of homeland and life, which are super-connected.” Don’t leave me alone!
By Havana Times
HAVANA TIMES – After ten months in prison, Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara has sent a voice message from the Guanajay maximum-security prison in Artemisa province. In it, he summarizes the repression himself, his family and friends have suffered, by a government that doesn’t allow voices outside of official discourse to speak.
Before his trial, finally set to take place on May 30th, Luis Manuel has shown his more human side, showing himself as a victim, “an artist and human being fighting to get out of this unfair prison, but with a greater love for free and honest art every day, with greater love for humankind and Cuba.”
He repeats that prison is an unpleasant place and sends his condolences to the victims of the recent terrible accident at the Hotel Saratoga.
Luis Manuel asks for forgiveness from the people who have been worried about his hunger strikes, explaining that “they stem from moods when faced with the dictatorship’s atrocities. But, luckily, I’ve found spiritual answers up until now, that help me to gain new strength.”
Otero places special emphasis on his son, whose birthday he isn’t able to celebrate because the child was born on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, something the Cuban Government despises and deploys its police forces to stop activists from taking to the street on this day.
He also tells us that he wants to teach his son to “fight for his ideals, for love and for a dream; and for his dreams, despite everything,” in a clear reference to why he’s resisting, and not singing to the Government’s tune. He also tells us about his own dreams: the unity of every Cuban in the world, no matter what their political persuasions, all together to think about a better Cuba.
During all of this time, the only get-out-of-jail card the Government has offered is exile, and if he doesn’t accept it, he’ll be forced to serve a seven-year prison sentence. Charges of serious contempt, public disorder and incitement have been fabricated against Luis Manuel. There’s also a file open for him for the indecent assault of patriotic symbols, for his performance piece Drapeau, where the theme was: the flag as a second skin.
Despite many of his friends thinking that he should follow the footsteps of so many others who have been coerced and forced to leave the country; despite not being visible for months now, despite jail and his hunger strikes possibly harming his health; Luis Manuel doesn’t want to give up on his dreams, his faith.
Regarding his statement, he clarifies that “these aren’t the words of a strong man who wants to be the tough guy, the asshole, or someone who can do as they please. On the contrary, I’m a vulnerable man, but I am especially an artist that dreams of homeland and life, which are super-connected.”
At the end of the message, he moves hearts with a humane appeal: Don’t leave me alone.
He asks people not to “lose faith in the good, in truth and freedom winning out. I want to ask you to support free art, my art, no matter where it is. Don’t leave me alone. Don’t leave Cuba’s fate in the hands of a dictator or in the hands of destiny. Support the San Isidro Movement and his philosophy, which is far from being dead. No matter where every one of its members finds themselves, every individual that identifies with San Isidro, with the San Isidro Movement, is going to live out this philosophy of art, freedom, and prosperity.”
Luisma gives thanks, hope, speaks about dreams, union and shows us his suffering and his convictions. It’s inspiring to listen to him: “For as long as music gives me strength, even if they stick me in the most hidden cell in Guantanamo or under a rock, I will find a way for my art to reach you and to continue to bet on total freedom.”