Cuban Prosecutor Adds ‘Alleged Previous Crimes’ to Lengthen Prison Sentences

The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, with a Cuban flag, behind El Funky (left) and Maykel Castillo ’Osorbo’ (right), in a scene from the video clip of ’Patria y Vida’. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 April 2022 — “This starts now.” With that phrase and a laugh, the rapper Maykel Castillo Osorbo responded when he was informed in prison this Thursday of the prosecutor’s request for ten years in prison that he faces, according to art curator Anamely Ramos speaking this Friday .

Ramos details in a Facebook post all the charges against both Osorbo and the leader of the San Isidro Movement, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who has a request from the public ministry for seven years in prison. The first is accused of attack, contempt and public disorder; the second, of outrage against national symbols, contempt and public disorder.

Ramos argues that “It is obvious, the search for alleged previous crimes to extend the time they asked for,” noting that the “outrage against national symbols” does not even correspond to April 4, 2021, when according to the legal file there were the events for which they are accused, but rather to two years ago, when Alcántara performed the work Drapeau, with a Cuban flag.

In addition, she explains that it must be taken into account that the day before the date in question, on April 3, the police beat Osorbo “at the entrance of the Cuba y Chacón station, with several activists who accompanied him to look for Luis Manuel, who are witnesses and who were also beaten.” As a result, the rapper had to go to the polyclinic “when he was released at dawn.”

When they tried to arrest him on April 4 and handcuffed him, continues Ramos, “they didn’t [succeed]* and Maykel began to complain and the discussion began.”

Far from behaving violently, as stated in the prosecutor’s petition, in the video made public on social networks at that time it can be seen that the violence “begins with the policeman grabbing Maykel by the neck while he practically kept his hands up or behind him.”

“What Maykel reacted against that day, what the neighborhood people who defended him reacted against, was against the police violence that is a fact in Cuban streets and that was seen in all its crudeness on July 11,” Ramos asserts. .

The activist also mentions that “when people began to spontaneously gather in San Isidro and sing,” that same April 4, “State Security arrived,” which, Ramos says, “meant that the police would be sanctioned for trying to arbitrarily and violently stop Maykel, the same police officers who are accusing them today.”

Ramos notes that in the year that both activists have now been in prison, “many international organizations, personalities, governments and coalitions have demanded their release… When the court judges and sentences Maykel and Luis, it will not be doing so in the shadows, it will be doing it in front of the world and against the world.”

One of those organizations, Amnesty International (AI), also ruled this Friday on the prosecution requests for Osorbo and Alcántara. Erika Guevara-Rosas, director of AI for the Americas, tweeted that both “conscientious opponents” face these sentences “for protesting, making anti-establishment art, denouncing the repression and authoritarianism of a government that despises its people.”

Guevara-Rosas attached to his message the document with the request of the Cuban Prosecutor’s Office, which among other “crimes,” also speaks of insulting the country’s president, accusing the Government, in a live broadcast, of “the lack of medical resources ” during the pandemic and insulting the Ministry of the Interior and the security forces, among others.

The Ministry considers in the brief that its investigation has concluded and requests the Ordinary Criminal Section of the People’s Municipal Court of Central Havana to open the oral trial against the accused.

*Translator’s note: Maykel was handcuffed on one wrist when the crowd intervened and ‘rescued’ him. The image of him raising a single handcuffed fist has become iconic. The video linked to above, and again here, shows the scene.


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