14ymedio, Havana, 26 December 2021 — Before being arrested on July 11 , without having had time to participate in the protests that day, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), had long been subjected to permanent harassment by the political police.
Specifically, since November 26, 2020, when State Security evicted more than a dozen activists quartered for freedom from number 955 of Damas Street , in Old Havana, the artist’s home and headquarters of the MSI. by rapper Denis Solís (today, by the way, in forced exile in Serbia). From there he left on a stretcher, after several days on a hunger and thirst strike.
The artist did not spend a day without State Security surveillance since then, but he never stopped participating in different initiatives, for example the launch, in March, of a platform called, like the song, Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life).
Shortly after, on April 25, Otero Alcántara went on hunger and thirst strike again to demand that his rights be respected, after a month of police siege of his home. The activist also demanded the return of his artistic works or compensation for those that were destroyed by the political police.
After several days of fasting, in the early morning of May 2, he was taken from his home against his will and taken to the Calixto García hospital, where he remained for almost a month with hardly any outside communication and without explanations from the State, which leaked videos of his retention to try to discredit him.
Meanwhile, on April 30, when they held a protest in favor of Otero Alcántara in the central Obispo street of Havana, Mary Karla Ares, Thais Mailén Franco, Félix Modesto, Inti Soto, Nancy Vera, Yuisan Cancio, Luis were arrested. Ángel Cuza and Esteban Rodríguez, all accused of “disturbing public order.” Of them, Rodríguez, Soto and Cuza remain in prison and Ares, Franco and Cancio are under house arrest.
Otero Alcántara was declared a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, which together with other international organizations, has urged President Miguel Díaz-Canel to release him “immediately and unconditionally.”
The artist is in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, Artemisa, where he has also carried out hunger strikes, accused of public disorder, instigation to commit a crime and contempt.
Although he shares a case with Maykel Castillo Osorbo, imprisoned in May, Otero Alcántara was arrested on June 11 , as were several of the main figures of the Cuban dissidence, such as Félix Navarro, of the Democratic Action Unit Table, and José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, who has denounced physical and psychological torture.
Despite the Government’s attempts to negotiate his freedom in exchange for leaving the country — as happened with Hamlet Lavastida, who headed to Europe with Katherine Bisquet after being released from prison — Otero Alcántara has made it clear, through the art curator Claudia Genlui Hidalgo , who “will not accept exile as an option under any circumstances.” The San Isidro lighthouse has not been turned off in prison.
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