EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 18 July 2023 — Cuban artist and dissident, Maykel Castillo aka Osorbo, sentenced to nine years in prison, sewed his mouth last week as a sign of protest against his mistreatment in prison, according to statements made to EFE on Tuesday by sources close to the opponent.
The coauthor of Patria y Vida — anthem of the July 2021 antigovernment protests and winner of two Latin Grammies — sutured his lips last Wednesday. A nurse removed the sutures the next day, according to the same sources.
Similarly, they reported that the dissident was sent to a punishment cell after sharing graphic materials related to his protest.
Last week, Cuban activist Anamely Ramos, exiled in the U.S. had shared on her Facebook profile that Osorbo had tattooed “Patria y Vida” on his forearm and was threatening to sew his mouth shut as a gesture of protest against the mistreatment he’s suffered in the Kilo 5 y Medio prison in Pinar del Río, where he has been held for two years.
“If on Friday you don’t hear from me, you know what happened: plantado in a cell, with my mouth sewn. That is war!” warned the musician during a phone call he had with Ramos, who stated that up until that point Castillo had approached prison as a career in “resistence” and had focused on reinventing himself, reading and “connection” with his people, but now he demands “respect”.
Ramos reminded us that for months she has been informing on Castillo’s situation in prison, where he has suffered “all kinds of abuses” and recurring violations of his rights.
It isn’t the first time the rapper has sewn his mouth shut in protest against the government, he also did so in August 2020.
In June of last year, artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Osorbo were convicted and sentenced to five and nine years in prison, respectively.
Otero Alcántara and Castillo were punished for crimes of disrespecting national symbols, contempt, public disorder in the former’s case, and contempt, assault, public disorder and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs, in Osorbo’s case.
The court proceedings were not linked to the 2021 antigovernment protests, but rather to events that occurred on April 4, 2021. On that day, according to the prosecutor, Castillo clashed with some agents, apparently because his companion was not wearing a mask.
According to what has been shared on social media by several activists, Castillo ended his statement during the trial telling the magistrate: “I expect that the sentence you decide, your honor, be that of your conscience.”
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.