Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo ‘Osorbo’ Sentenced to Five and Nine Years in Prison

Otero Alcántara (back) and Maykel Castillo (front) in Havana, when they were still free. (Anamely Ramos)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 June 2022 — There is now a sentence in the trial against the artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Osorbo, held on May 30 and 31 in Havana. In a statement made public this Friday by the Attorney General’s Office, the People’s Municipal Court of Central Havana reported that the sentence for Alcántara is five years in prison for the crimes of outrage against the symbols of the country, contempt and public disorder, and for Osorbo, nine years for contempt, attack, public disorder and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs.

From these, time they have already spent in prison, 11 months in the case of Alcántara and 13 in the case of Osorbo, is discounted.

Although the judges lowered the requests of the Prosecutor’s Office – which was seven years for Alcántara and ten for Osorbo – they reached the “conviction about the facts proven in the oral hearing and their social harmfulness,” says the text, “determined the responsibility of those prosecuted, as well as the position assumed and the acts carried out by each one.”

Thus, for Alcántara, without mentioning the, events they refer to the Drapeau artistic performance, say that he had “the express intention, sustained over time, of offending the national flag, by publishing photos on social networks where it is used in demeaning acts, accompanied by notoriously offensive and disrespectful expressions, belittling the feelings of nationality and pride that the Cuban people profess towards our national flag.”

As for Osorbo, they argue that he used false images “digitally manipulated, which he made public on social networks; and for the same purpose he carried out direct interventions from his personal profile to dishonor the function that law enforcement officers perform in society,” without major details, “with the manifest purpose of outraging, affecting the honor and dignity of the country’s highest authorities.”

In the same trial, Félix Roque Delgado, Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel were sentenced for the crime of attack. The first, to five years in prison, and the second, to 3 years of “correctional work without internment.”

The sentence, to which 14ymedio has had access, is signed by judges Helen Hernández Pozo, Martha Palomino Barany and Yoany Martínez Pérez, and dismissed the defense’s petitions. Alcántara’s lawyer asked either for his acquittal, or to accept a crime of contempt with mitigation, which did not carry a prison sentence, and Osorbo’s lawyer asked to accept a crime of resistance and one year of internment.

The “proven facts” include posts on Facebook by Alcántara in July, August and September 2019, as well as a post by Osorbo in August 2020. It should be remembered that the former, leader of the San Isidro Movement, has been in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, Artemisa, since July 2021, when he was arrested before being able to join the protests of the 11th of that month.

Osorbo, for his part, has been in the Kilo Cinco y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, since May 2021. The events for which he had been told he was detained occurred on the previous April 4, at a demonstration in the Damas street, in front of the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, when the police tried to arbitrarily arrest him and he refused to get on the patrol car. In this, he was helped by those also prosecuted, Félix Roque Delgado, Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel.

In the ruling made known this Friday, it is stated that on the afternoon of that April 4, “in the vicinity of Cuba street on the corner of Acosta”, in Old Havana, Maykel Castillo, Félix Roque and Juslid Justiz were present, and that Justiz “lacked the sanitary mask” to protect against covid-19.

Two agents who were in a vehicle of the National Revolutionary Police, continues the legal text, called the attention of the woman, who at the time was defended by Osorbo. “The co-defendant Castillo Pérez told the officer that no one would put on a mask, that he was Osorbo, and he began to shout in a disturbed manner in the place,” says the sentence, which indicates that it was Osorbo who attacked the police vehicle, before the officers tried to stop him, to no avail.

After that, the accused, always according to the sentence, arrive at Damas 955. There, the document continues, “both of those prosecuted, with the evident purpose of altering public order and citizen tranquility, began to play music at full volume on the outskirts of Otero Alcántara’s home, which caused an crowd of people who occupied the entire public thoroughfare, while the defendants chanted ‘when I say Díaz-Canel you say singao [motherfucker], Díaz-Canel singao, Díaz-Canel singao‘, with the marked intention of insulting the deputy of the National Assembly of People’s Power and President of the Republic Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.”

The loud chorus is part of the anti-establishment rap Diazka. The artists themselves reported, and so it appeared in videos that they spread on social networks, that on April 4 they sang the song turned into an anthem Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) in the street.

The artist Julio Llópiz-Casal, who together with Lázaro Saavedra witnessed the defense of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and had said that the questions in his statement that May 30 focused on emphasizing “what was based on to vouch for the artistic career” of the activist, has seen with astonishment how his statement in the sentence is portrayed.

“Friends of the accused,” says the text, “tried to justify the actions of the defendant, an aspect we did not give credibility to, as they omit the that the national symbol, in this case the Cuban flag, generates in the people a feeling of patriotism, which unites belonging to the same land, having the same origin, and the same history, which becomes tangible when we respect the flag, since it is a sign of what distinguishes, identifies and unifies the Cuban people.”

In this regard, Llópiz-Casal bluntly declared to 14ymedio: “Using as an argument the bond of friendship that unites me with Luis Manuel Otero as a defense witness to dismiss the elements that I gave for the defense cause is an act of baseness, bungling and manipulation.”

The Madrid-based NGO Prisoners Defenders has also spoken out against the sentence , calling the court decision a “crime against human beings and art.”

The trial of Alcántara and Osorbo, both declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, has been denounced by international organizations such as the UN. The days of the oral hearing were characterized by the harassment and repression of activists and journalists within the Island.

Those days, Alcántara was punished; without permission to make calls he released an audio that he had recorded on May 17, in which he spoke of the repression suffered in recent years, the offer of release in exchange for exile that was made to him from the regime, and rejected, and of the fighting spirit that he wishes to transmit to his son and to the entire Cuban people.

This same Wednesday, Alcántara’s official account reported: “Luis has just called. They have apparently removed his punishment. He is not in a very good mood, he continues to demand his freedom without conditions. About @MaykelCastill19 [Osorbo] he comments that in the trial he saw him with a foot in bad condition due to a pimple. We don’t know if it has been taken care of.”

Both have ten working days to appeal the sentence.


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