Cuban State Security Used a Common Prisoner to Harass Otero Alcantara in Prison

Manuel Luis Otero Alcántara in front of the Havana Capitol during a day of protests. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 July 2022 — The Cuban opposition figure and artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara informed his family on Wednesday that he is suffering “harassment” by a prisoner in the Guanajay maximum security prison. According to the curator Claudia Genlui, the inmate has a 51-year sentence and State Security has instructed him “to attack Luis Manuel.”

Until now, Genlui said, Alcántara was isolated and “without even being able to access sunlight.” Also, as he is “grounded” due to the hunger and thirst strike he had started, he was prohibited from making phone calls. However, he was recently transferred to a shared cell and “the provocations have been increasing.”

The leader of the San Isidro Movement had already deposed the hunger strike that began on July 4 to demand his release, due to his delicate state of health. “It is evident how State Security tries to provoke a conflict in which Luis Manuel is affected,” Genlui said in his statement.

The inmate’s hostility is now added to Alcántara’s physical weakness, although “Luis has tried to avoid problems.”

“Precisely because of the visibility he has and his importance in the thought process of Cuban civil society, Alcántara is in constant danger, not only that they may try to complicate his sentence and leave him in prison for more years, but also his mental health and physical integrity,” Genlui added.

From prison, Alcántara assured that “he is not in a camp, he is suffering, he is under torture and his life is in danger.”

Genlui launched a demand to the international human rights organizations, so that they do not remain indifferent to the violation of elementary norms being suffered by the artist, because frequently “in the face of the Cuban dictatorship they look the other way and remain with their arms crossed.”

Alcántara was arrested on July 11, 2021 and tried ten months later, along with Maykel Castillo Osorbo, who had been detained since May of that same year. The sentences imposed were five years in prison, in the case of Alcántara, and nine for Castillo.

The health of both prisoners has been pushed to the limit during the period of imprisonment. Otero Alcántara reported having lost the sight of one eye, while Osorbo is suffering from an undiagnosed illness, according to his relatives. “Luis’s time in prison is not ours. He suffers and lives the fullest days of torture,” Genlui wrote, referring to the artist’s physical and mental wear.

After blaming the regime for any bodily or psychological damage that might occur to Alcántara, Genlui demanded “concrete actions for his freedom,” since, as the artist himself has declared, “leaving Cuba, exiled, stripped of everything, is not a option.”

State Security has proposed on several occasions, both to Alcántara and Castillo, exile as an alternative to prison, but both opponents have refused: “That is precisely the ’solution’ that the dictatorship that we ask for is seeking.”

During the last year, and given the imminence of new protests, the Cuban government has tried to dismantle the opposition on the island, forcing exile or imprisoning its main representatives, such as Hamlet Lavastida, Katherine Bisquet, Anamely Ramos, Carolina Barrero, Yunior García and, more recently, Saily González. Alcántara and Castillo, however, have rejected any negotiations with the regime and have insisted that they will not leave Cuba.


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