Luis Manuel Otero remains incommunicado in the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana
HAVANA TIMES – After two weeks in the hospital against his will, Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara remains incommunicado, without access to his telephone and guarded by the police. Those who have dared to approach the room where he is, have been arrested, and many activists are being held in their homes, under surveillance.
Since State Security took Otero out of his house/workshop in the San Isidro neighborhood of Old Havana on May 2, and forcibly admitted him to the Calixto García hospital, the news has been scant and contradictory.
Two questionable videos uploaded by medical personnel, and a couple official statements (from the Havana Provincial Health authorities on the day of his hospitalization, and from the Ministry of Public Health about his recovery), is what has transpired.
In all the news it is stated that the artist is in good health, which does not correspond to the long stay in the medical institution. Even more so in these times of rampant Covid-19 cases in the capital.
Luis Manuel went on a hunger and thirst strike on April 25, rejecting the continuous surveillance to which he is subjected and to demand the return of his art works, stolen by State Security. The strike lasted seven days, until his early morning kidnapping; but the government has been determined to deny it. Neither in the statements nor in the videos can anything be made clear, except that he is alive.
There are many people alarmed that a health institution conspires against the emotional health of a society, and that, to protect the interests of the State, the most elementary rights of a citizen are violated.
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 on government policies, has the authorities more concerned than the severe shortages of food and basic medicines suffered by most of the Cuban people.