14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 2 December 2020 — The independent artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was detained this Wednesday when he left the house of the journalist Mónica Baró and while speaking by phone with 14ymedio. A police patrol took him to his mother’s house, where a State Security agent forbade him to go out and “told him to spend his birthday with his family,” said the spokesman for the San Isidro Movement, Michel Matos.
The activist and curator Claudia Genlui Hidalgo broadcast live on her social networks the moment when Otero Alcántara was detained: “The truce is once again broken,” she commented.
While filming, Genlui Hidalgo approached the entrance to Baró’s house, which since the night before had a patrol at the front and where a State Security agent in pink pants and two uniformed women from the Ministry of the Interior remained. The young woman asked if she could access the house and the moment when she was also detained was recorded.
Shortly after the fact, the journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez, who was inside the house, denounced the arrests. “They have just taken Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Claudia Genlui Hidalgo, who was on her way to see him, from the ground floor of the house on 7th and 32nd,” he wrote on his Facebook profile.
“Luis Manuel slept here yesterday, since [the house at] Damas 955 was uninhabitable, and now he was going to meet his uncle. Just yesterday they had released him and the only thing he has done since then is sleep,” Álvarez said. “It seems that in his dreams he committed a new crime,” the journalist commented sarcastically, before adding: “Today is his birthday [33 years]. The unjustified harassment continues.”
Otero Alcantará was arrested while he was explaining to this newspaper his decision to end his hunger strike after ten days. “When I got to the hospital (Fajardo) I felt that they wanted to leave me there for a long time and I did not want to give them justifications for that; that was one of the reasons why I stopped the hunger strike. The other reason is because I felt that, yes, I was still going to die, and it didn’t make any sense, I had to be in the race, warming up and creating above all, generating those areas of disagreement that they have with me against the system.”
“In every step that the government took against us, I felt that we were winning,” he says. “I am tremendously enthusiastic, I am optimistic, I see the changes, it happened with Bienal 00, Decree 349. I think we are in a context where a civil society is developing that can generate important changes for Cubans.”
“When those people (State Security agents disguised as doctors) went into our house in San Isidro to get us out (which was one of the planned exits and I think it was indisputably the best for us and the most awkward for them) and they didn’t let me go back, I felt that they didn’t know what to do with me, they saw me as a stone that didn’t want to fit where they wanted it and that it was like a snowball that was growing.”
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