Amnesty International Demands the ‘Immediate’ Release of Otero Alcantara and Maykel ‘Osorbo’

Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo in Havana, while they were still free. (Anamely Ramos)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Mexico City, 23 June 2023 —  Amnesty International (AI) said Thursday that the Cuban authorities must release the artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo Pérez “immediately and unconditionally.”

It is now one year since they were unjustly sentenced to five and nine years in prison, respectively, in a legal process that did not respect the guarantees of a fair trial.

“The continued arbitrary detention of Luis Manuel and Maykel is part of a pattern of repression based on imprisoning at all costs those who dissent from the authorities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International in a statement issued today.

“These arrests seek to generate a paralyzing effect on activism and silence freedom of expression in Cuba,” she added.

The AI ​​representative said that both sentences “are an example of the cruelty that the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel is willing to exert on anyone who criticizes the Cuban authorities.”

Given this, she said, “the authorities should abandon the use of the penal system to repress the population, and take the necessary measures to guarantee the independence of the Judiciary and the Prosecutor’s Office.”

Castillo Pérez, known as “Osorbo”, is a musician and human rights activist. He is co-author of the song Patria y vida, which criticizes the Cuban government and has been adopted as a protest anthem. He was arrested at his home on May 18, 2021 by security agents and has been in prison ever since.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is also a member of the artistic collective San Isidro Movement, which has opposed a law that censors artists.

He was arrested on July 11, 2021 in Havana, after announcing in a video that he would join the protests that same day, in which thousands of people demonstrated peacefully and spontaneously in dozens of cities demanding a change in the laws. living conditions in Cuba.

According to the organization Justicia 11J, as of June 7, 2023, 773 people detained during the 2021 protests were still deprived of their liberty.

In 2021, AI analyzed the facts and the context of the detention of Otero Alcántara and Castillo Pérez and designated both artists as prisoners of conscience, since they have been deprived of their liberty solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights. Amnesty International considers that “the criminal process and the sentence in which it culminated consisted of a farce, lacking any respect for the minimum guarantees of a fair trial.”

And it added that “the sentences must be reversed and the people affected released immediately and unconditionally. Likewise, the Government must guarantee that neither they nor their families or relatives suffer repression for seeking justice in this case.”

On May 18, the NGO sent a letter to Díaz-Canel two years after Castillo’s arrest “for exercising his right to freedom of expression and criticizing the government,” for which he was sentenced to nine years in prison.


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