Luis Manuel Otero, Kidnapped and Surrounded in a Hospital

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara – Photo: Evelyn Sosa

HAVANA TIMES – In the early morning of May 2, after having cut off cell phones in the area, State Security and medical personnel forcibly entered the home of Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero in the San Isidro neighborhood of Old Havana.

The artist, who had been on a hunger and thirst strike for a week, was transferred to the Calixto García hospital where they have not allowed the arrival of his friends. According to the online newspaper 14ymedio, the place is under strict surveillance, both inside and in the surrounding streets.

According to the authorities, Luis Manuel was subjected to different laboratory tests. Meanwhile, the Cuban government continues its discrediting campaign on State media against all who dissent and especially against Otero. The government wants to pretend that Luis Manuel has not been on a hunger strike, as they hold him by force.

Some relatives and hospital workers have assured that he is being hydrated in a therapy room. However, there are many questions in the air.

If the patient is healthy, why has he been kept in the hospital for more than 48 hours? Why not send him to his house and film him in his usual activities so that the whole world can see if he was lying? Why is there this police deployment around the hospital? Why did they delay in letting the family be around him? Why don’t they let him talk to his friends and members of the San Isidro Movement on the phone?

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 on Havana Times.