The opposition rapper Denis Solís, a former prisoner of conscience recognized by the United Nations, and subsequently forced into exile, is in a situation of extreme poverty in Novi Sad, Serbia, where he has lived since he left Cuba at the end of 2021. The organization Prisoner Defenders has tweeted an alert about the situation and refers to a telephone to provide help to the activist, a member of the San Isidro Movement (MSI).
The artist “left [Cuba] with a cousin and the cousin’s daughter,” a relative confirmed to 14ymedio at the time of his departure, although little has been known about him since then, except that he has requested political asylum and, therefore, cannot work. The rapper has declared that he is having a hard time in Serbia and that he needs to resort to the help they give him in order to survive and pay the rent. “I have already reached the limit and I have no way to support myself,” he said in a brief message to Martí Noticias.
The arrest of Denis Solís in November 2020 and his subsequent conviction for contempt in a summary trial, opened the spigot of the MSI protests, led by the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. Its members then began a hunger strike at its headquarters in Havana, from which they were violently evicted by State Security agents disguised as health workers with the excuse of measures to contain the covid-19 pandemic.
The event triggered a protest by more than 300 artists who gathered before the Ministry of Culture to ask for dialogue with the authorities and gave rise to the 27N group, also the seed of Archipíelago, led by playwright Yunior García Aguilera. Both he, who now resides in Spain, and Otero Alcántara, currently in prison in Cuba, faced reprisals for defying the authorities.
Solís’ release occurred in July 2021, after serving eight months in prison. Shortly afterward, after being harassed by the Cuban authorities, he took a flight to Moscow headed for Serbia, a country that exempts Cubans from visas.
His departure was leaked by anonymous accounts at the service of the regime, which released images in which Solís was seen at the José Martí International Airport in Havana, carrying a suitcase and accompanied by relatives.
Luis Robles, known as the young man with the placard, has also suffered the consequences of defending Solís. On December 4, 2020, he took to the streets to demand, sign in hand, the release of the rapper on the San Rafael Boulevard in Havana.
The gesture has earned him a five-year prison sentence for “responding to a call” from the Cuban influencer “Alexander Otaola to speak out” against the arrest of Solís, “from the police authorities, the leaders of the State and the Government ” and “performing any act aimed at destabilizing internal order, publicly demonstrating in the streets against the Cuban economic and social system,” according to the text of his sentence.
Solís has said he feels a moral debt to Robles, who is currently being mistreated in prison, according to his relatives.
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