New Images of Otero Alcantara at Calixto Garcia Hospital Come to Light


n the images the artist can be seen at least for a moment placing his index fingers and thumb in an “L” shape, for “Libertad” (Freedom). (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 May 2021 — Two new videos released this Friday show the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara in the Calixto García hospital in Havana, where he has been admitted since last Sunday. In the images, the activist appears in the area outside a pavilion and at one point makes an “L” with his hand, a very common sign for ‘Libertad’ (Freedom) among Cuban opponents.

Internet user Rodrigo Huaimachi, director and founder of the Cubapaladar (Cuba Private Restaurants) website, shared one of the videos of less than a minute on the Facebook group Blogueros Revolucionario (Revolutionary Bloggers). The entrepreneur referred ironically to the scene of the artist standing and outside the buildings.

“Didn’t they say that he was handcuffed and imprisoned?” Huaimachi questioned, referring to several complaints that have circulated on social networks and independent media that Otero Alcántara was allegedly handcuffed to a hospital bed and with a strict police guard around his room.

In the images, there is at least one moment when the artist can be seen placing his index fingers and thumb in an “L” shape, and at another moment it is observed that he is looking directly at the camera, as if he knew about the filming.

In the recordings, which also circulate on Telegram, it is seen that Otero Alcántara is accompanied by Dr. Ifrán Martinez Gálvez, who appeared earlier this week as head of the medical team that cares for the patient. The images show that the health worker talking with the artist and showing him some areas of the medical center.

According to an internal hospital source, the recordings were made outside the burn unit, where Otero Alcántara, the most visible face of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), is being held. “That area is generally full of people but they limited access before filming,” adds the Calixto García employee who preferred anonymity.

Last Tuesday, the first video of the artist after he was hospitalized was posted on Facebook. The images, broadcast on the profile of Dr. Martinez Gálvez, were interpreted as a clear response to the demands of proof of life that the artist’s friends demanded of the Cuban Government.

The healthcare worker affirmed that his telephone number had “received numerous calls and messages” where they accused him of being a repressor and a policeman, which, he insisted, “is uncertain”, and because of which he asked Otero Alcántara “to film this video as a whole, with the help of our nurse Dorita, to show reality.”

Alcántara was arrested eight times during the month of April by the political police to prevent him from leaving his home on Damas Street, in Old Havana. After a raid on his house, also the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), State Security confiscated his works of art and destroyed part of them.

On April 25, the artist began a hunger and thirst strike to protest the repression. In November, Alcántara had already used this method together with other members of the MSI. On that occasion, the Police also broke into the headquarters of the group to forcibly take the strikers to a hospital, also arguing that there was a risk due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the early hours of Sunday, when Otero Alcántara was taken from his home against his will and taken to a hospital, he has not had communication with his colleagues at the MSI and the concern for his health and well-being increases with each day that passes.


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