14ymedio, Havana, 5 April 2022 — After several hunger strikes, the last one between January and February of this year, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara “is trying to recover his physical constitution by putting his best effort into exercising and trying, as far as possible, to eat,” according to art curator Claudia Genlui speaking on Monday.
The curator posted a new update on the status of the artist, imprisoned for more than eight months in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, who was able to see his family last Friday after two months without having physical contact with her.
“Luis told his family that during the time he was on strike he was paralyzed and had to be urgently transferred to a hospital,” the activist wrote on her Facebook account. As a result of this latest hunger strike, the leader of the San Isidro Movement has sequelae in his sight, with the constant presence of a black spot that his loved ones are worried about.
Although Otero Alcántara has allegedly requested medical assistance that has been denied, Genlui says that he has low hemoglobin and dermatitis. “They don’t allow him to go out in the sun or have hardly any contact with other prisoners,” Genlui denounces.
The artist, however, seems to have recovered the right to phone calls and communicates twice a week. “From there he tries to transmit strength to us,” says Genlui, who is alarmed by the terrible circumstances in which Otero Alcántara finds himself, whose health is at “constant risk.”
The leader of the San Isidro Movement has been in prison since July 11, when he was arrested before he managed to join the anti-government protests, and is accused of public disorder, incitement to commit a crime, and contempt.
These crimes were charged to him for events in April 2021, when he attended a birthday party in which the residents of the neighborhood where he resides ended up singing Patria y Vida. Although he was released pending trial, he was arrested and imprisoned on the day of the protests throughout the country and, according to his lawyer, his case is still plagued by irregularities, including lack of access to documentation or the prosecutor’s request.
“Let’s remember that Luis Manuel is an artist whom the Cuban government tries to discredit and whom it keeps in prison for charges that have been built from ignorance and censorship of art. Luis is innocent and will not rest until he is released, taken to his home, accompanied by his family, which is where he should be,” says Genlui.
Otero Alcántara is considered a prisoner of conscience by international organizations and the US government. In recent years he has become one of the most relevant voices of Cuban activism, art and opposition. Time magazine included him in its list of most influential people of 2021.
“Despite the circumstances, Luis Manuel continues to create. His ability to cling to art as a way of surviving and resisting is admirable. Luis is not alone. He knows it and is willing to continue the fight for Cuba’s freedom from all scenarios,” Claudia Genlui concludes.
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