What have they done in Cuba?
HAVANA TIMES – Luis Manuel Otero and Maykel “Osorbo” are two independent Cuban artists, who became human rights activists and advocates on the island. Both of them are in prison waiting for a Court to issue the final sentence for their individual cases. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has asked for a seven-year prison sentence for Otero and ten years for Osorbo. Both have been charged with different common crimes and repeatedly slandered on the state media monopoly
LUIS MANUEL OTERO ALCANTARA
Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, 34, is the leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) – a group that supports cultural and political freedom, based in Havana. He is a painter, sculptor and self-taught performer. He was featured in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential People of 2021.
The San Isidro Movement was born in 2018 in protest to the enactment of Decree-Law 349, which was an attack against independent art in Cuba. MSI members have been arrested on many occasions and the political police has them under close surveillance and at times under house arrest.
Otero Alcantara made the phrase “we’re connected” popular, which became a symbol of the struggle for rights in Cuba. Luis Manuel has been arrested for his protest performances in the public space. In March 2020, he was charged with “indecent assault of patriotic symbols”, but the case was thrown out and never taken to court.
In November 2020, a group of people held a sit-in with Otero and Osorbo at MSI’s headquarters, in protest to the repression against one of the group’s members, rapper Dennis Solis. They started a group hunger strike there to demand the musician’s release, which garnered attention in Cuba and worldwide. The sit-in ended when State Security stormed MSI headquarters, on November 26th 2020.
On May 2 2021, State Security broke into Otero’s home to interrupt another hunger strike he was holding because his work had been destroyed and stolen by the agents. He was admitted by force into the “General Calixto Garcia” University Hospital. He stayed there for about a month.
He was last arrested on July 11, 2021, when he was on his way to join the 11J protests in Havana.
Maykel Castillo Perez, 39 years old, is one of the authors of the song “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life). Before joining MSI, Maykel was a rapper on Cuba’s underground hip-hop scene. He won many awards at Cuba’s “Puños Arriba” festival, and Patria y Vida recently won two important 2021 Latin Grammy Awards.
In April 2019, he was sentenced to over a year in prison after he criticized Decree-Law 349 during a performance at a state-led center. In 2020, after his release, he would livestream on social media and this increased his visibility as a dissident. Since then, he has been arrested dozens of times over the past two years.
On April 4th 2021, he resisted arrest in Old Havana. He was arrested a month later and sent to prison.
Why does the Cuban Government fear these two artists? Find out more in the following video: