Cuban Activist Maykel Osorbo Threatens to Sew His Mouth Shut Because of Ill-Treatment in Prison

Recent photo of Maykel Castillo taken clandestinely from the Kilo 5 y medio prison, in Pinar del Río. (Facebook/Anamely Ramos)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 13, 2023 — Cuban activist Anamely Ramos, now in exile in the US, reported this Wednesday on her Facebook profile that rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo tattooed the slogan “Patria y Vida” on his forearm and that he threatened to sew up his mouth, as a gesture of protest against the mistreatment suffered in the Kilo 5 y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, where he has been imprisoned for two years.

“If you don’t hear from me again on Friday, you know what happened: plantado* in a cell, with my mouth sewn up. This is war!” warned the musician during a phone call he had with Ramos, who assures that Until now, Castillo had assumed prison as a race of “resistance” and had focused on reinventing himself, reading and “connecting” with his family, but now he asks for “respect.”

Ramos said that she has been reporting on Castillo’s situation in prison for months, where he has suffered “all kinds of abuses” and the recurring violation of his rights. “Not even the nine years that they have thrown at me matter to me. I am ready to continue being me, to assume whatever. But artists are treated with respect. I am not going to give my respect in exchange for anything, nor for my freedom,” said the co-author of the song Patria y Vida.

Ramos, an activist and art historian, also details a list of arbitrariness committed against the musician, which includes confinement in punishment cells, periods of solitary confinement of up to three months, cancellation of regular and conjugal visits, continuous disagreements with Security agents of the State, humiliation and threats from common prisoners allowed by the officers in charge of maintaining order within the prison.

In Ramos’s opinion, these warnings have been “directed by the prison bosses” to harass Castillo. “At this point, Maykel has decided to say enough is enough,” she clarified, noting that the inmate’s life is in danger, “like that of all political prisoners who are not willing to play at the pace that power wants.”

As a preventive measure, says Ramos, the rapper “tries to eat as little as possible of what they give there.” As he previously reported, his jailers have even installed a surveillance camera in his cell after accusing him of inciting a riot.

They have also delayed giving him immediate medical assistance when he needed it and refused to give his medical file to his family. “His situation has worsened significantly since they changed his company,” said the activist.

For his part, Cuban opponent Guillermo Coco Fariñas, who is holding a hunger strike in Santa Clara, has been urged by his own organization, the United Antitotalitarian Forum (Fantu), to lift the restrictions on water and food consumption that the dissident claimed to have started on June 26.

The General Council of Fantu reported this request to Fariñas in a statement at a time when the opponent’s relatives had declared to the EFE news agency that he is in a delicate state of health, with severe pain, great drowsiness and a general decay that prevents him from standing up, and they assured that the decision to request the cessation of the strike, unanimously, had been motivated by the approval in the European Parliament, this Tuesday, of a resolution that requests sanctions for the Cuban Government for violating human rights and demands the immediate release of political prisoners.

One of Fariñas’ demands when starting the hunger and thirst strike was to demand that the European Union (EU) break the Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, the mechanism that governs the organization’s bilateral relations with Cuba since 2017.

Similarly, Fariñas urged the Organization of American States (OAS) to impose a “naval and air siege” on Cuba in application of its Inter-American Democratic Charter, although the island is not part of that body.

In addition, the dissident assured that he would maintain his protest “until all military personnel and their espionage teams currently based in Cuba, belonging to the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, are withdrawn.”

Fariñas, one of the best-known Cuban opponents at the international level, and winner of the Andrei Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, told EFE at the beginning of the strike that he was arrested upon arrival at the Santa Clara airport, after an incident involving the loss of his suitcases, after his return from a stay of several months in Miami, USA.


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