Second Repressive Day to Prevent a Demonstration at Havana’s Capitol Building

The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara leaving his house this Saturday heading to the Capitol a few minutes before being arrested. (Facebook)

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14ymedio, Havana, 31 January 2021 — This Saturday, Havana saw the second day of repression against activists, artists and independent journalists to prevent a demonstration at the Capitol building. The protest, called by Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, sought to demand the resignation of the Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso, after his violent action on January 27.

“I am going to send a message to the dictatorship: if the minister does not resign, I will go up to Díaz-Canel. The President and the Assembly of People’s Power have to ensure his resignation. That’s why I’m going to the Capitol again,” Alcántara said in a live video, broadcast on Facebook.

The independent artist demands that Alonso be revoked from his position after leading an attack last week against a group of artists gathered in front of the Ministry of Culture. The head of the sector not only beat an independent journalist but was part of a repressive operation that ended with the arrest of several artists.

After the incident, there were new arrests. The first person arrested on Saturday was Otero Alcántara himself, when he left his house, and he was followed by independent artist Amaury Pacheco, producer Michel Matos and writer Katherine Bisquet.

The art historian Carolina Barrero and the rapper Maykel Castillo, known as El Osorbo, were able to reach the steps of the Capitol at eight o’clock at night, but both were arrested within minutes of being there. The arrests of Matos and Pacheco were broadcast live on Facebook.

“We have come to the National Assembly of People’s Power to demand our right as citizens to have the Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso Grau resign for the acts of violence committed at the gates of the ministry,” declared Barrero upon arrival at the scene.

“We have a Constitution that protects us. (…) The government has to be accountable to us and not us to the government,” he added in a Facebook broadcast in which he also invited citizens to join the protest, seconds before the State Security agents and the police arrived.

Both Barrero and Castillo were taken to the Regla police unit and released shortly after midnight. The rest of the detainees were also released after several hours of arrest.

On Saturday, there was a visible police and State Security operation around the Capitol.

On that day, State Security monitored the homes of artists, activists and independent journalists such as Tania Bruguera, Yasser Castellanos, Camila Acosta, Julio Llopiz-Casal, Luz Escobar, Katherine Bisquet, Otero Alcántara, Michel Matos, Oscar Casanella and Amuary Pacheco, all of whom were blocked from going out.

For his part, Amaury Pacheco denounced the arrest of his 18-year-old son, Jesús David. The young man was summoned and later detained at the Alamar police station, east of Havana. According to the father, Jesús David was summoned allegedly to be given a mobile phone whose theft he had reported three years earlier. But the appointment turned into an arrest.

Pacheco maintains that the true motive for his son’s arrest was to prevent him from supporting Otero Alcántara in the call to demonstrate outside the Capitol.


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