Dozens of Cuban artists and journalists are under constant harassment and arbitrary arrests by State Security
HAVANA TIMES – It’s been 25 days now since State Security took Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara into their custody and admitted him into Calixto Garcia hospital. The 33-year-old Cuban artist continues to be cut off from the world and his physical and mental health is deteriorating over time, which can be seen in photos published unofficially by medical staff.
A week after holding a hunger and thirst strike, State Security forced him to be admitted into hospital on May 2nd. Ever since then, friends and activists are demanding to see and talk to Luis Manuel, but only some relatives are authorized to see him.
How it began
On April 16th, a police raid burst into the San Isidro Movement headquarters (Otero’s house) arrested him, stole and destroyed some of his artworks. The Artist declared a hunger and thirst strike with very clear demands that could be easily met, but State Security hasn’t made this compromise. The only thing it’s done is step up its repressive methods that include arbitrary arrests, police harassment, home arrest and slander in the State media.
Nobody could reach Otero’s home/studio at 55 Damas Street in Old Havana where he was holding his strike, because of the great police cordon around the area, and the harassment his friends and other activists received. The people who tried to get to him, and who held a sit-in on Obispo street when they saw they couldn’t, continue under arrest.
Everything seems to indicate that they’ll have to wait for trial in prison and far from their homes, for alleged crimes of “public disorder and resistance”, according to Diario de Cuba. “This publication also confirms that every request for freedom on bail presented for independent journalists Mary Karla Ares and Esteban Rodriguez, Thais Mailen Franco, Inti Soto Romero and Angel Luis Cuba, were rejected by the court and they no longer have a chance to wait for their trial in freedom.”
Other activists who tried to visit the hospital once Luis Manuel was admitted, are also in the same situation.
The government’s attack against criticism goes even further. Two rappers were violently arrested on May 18th, after they both participated in the “Patria y Vida” song and music video. The digital magazine Arbol Invertido reports that: “Rappers Maykel Castillo (Osorbo) and Elicer Marquez (El Funky) have been sentenced by Havana’s People’s Provincial Court (TPPH), according to a statement from Cubalex organization, which was posted on its Facebook page.
They are being charged with the alleged crimes of “disobedience”, “resistance” and “contempt”, which have led Maykel be held in prison as a prevention measure, while Eliecer is being held under home arrest.”
Several Cuban visual artists have asked the director of the National Fine Arts Museum to suspend the physical and virtual exhibitions of their works, while Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara continues to be held prisoner at the hospital and other artists are either under surveillance, being persecuted and arbitrarily arrested.
Amnesty International has declared the Luis Manuel a prisoner of conscience.