14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 28 May 2021 — With last Wednesday’s transfer of the communicator and activist Esteban Rodríguez to the Valle Grande penitentiary, there are now six activists jailed awaiting trial for their participation, on April 30 in Obispo Street in Havana, in an act of solidarity with the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. The information was confirmed this Friday to 14ymedio by Rodríguez’s wife, Zuleidis Cepero.
That same day the independent journalist Mary Karla Ares was also transferred to the Guatao prison, according to her mother, Marisol González, speaking to this newspaper. The authorities accuse the peaceful protesters of the crimes of public disorder and resistance, which, according to the Cubalex Legal Information Center, can mean sentences “from three months to five years of deprivation of liberty.”
In addition to Ares and Rodríguez, the activists transferred to prisons include Thais Mailén Franco, Inti Soto Romero, Yuisán Cancio Vera and Luis Ángel Cuza. Last week Amnesty International called for the immediate release of these protesters and emphasized Ares, who broadcast the protest live on Facebook.
For his part, rapper Maykel Osorbo Castillo, who was arrested at his home on May 18, remains unaccounted for. In response to a habeas corpus petition filed in his favor, it was only known that the artist is in provisional prison accused of “disobedience, resistance and contempt,” but the place where he is being held remains unknown.
In response to this situation, on Friday the United Nations Committee Against Forced Disappearances asked the Cuban Government for news of Osorbo’s whereabouts. “The Committee requires the urgent action of the State [Cuba] to adopt all the necessary measures to search and locate Mr. Maykel Castillo Pérez and protect his life and personal integrity, in accordance with its conventional obligations,” said the organism of the UN in response to a complaint from the NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders (CPD).
The UN letter asks Havana to “inform the relatives of Mr. Castillo Pérez about the place of his deprivation of liberty, as well as the charges against him,” and, appealing to the Convention for the Protection of All People Against Forced Disappearances, also asks that “he can communicate with his family, a lawyer or any other person of his choice and receive their visit.”
The demand is addressed to the Cuban ambassador in Geneva and gives the government of the island until June 11 to respond to their “concerns and recommendations.”
In recent weeks, Osorbo has been subjected to an intense police siege and has been detained without reason on several occasions. The 37-year-old artist, together with Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno and El Funky, composed the song Patria y Vida, which has exceeded five million views on YouTube and has become an anthem for the opposition both within and off the island.
This Thursday, CPD launched a manifesto in support of the artists participating in the song Patria y Vida — who have been besieged by the Cuban Government in recent weeks — in which they ask for an end to the repression.
The demand emphasizes the critical situation in Otero Alcántara, who has been in solitary confinement at the Calixto García hospital in Havana for 26 days.
Several European Parliament Deputies also signed a letter requesting that a Delegation of the European Union (EU) visit Otero Alcántara in the hospital. The letter, written by Dita Charanzová, vice-president of the European Parliament, is addressed to Josep Borrell, high representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Prisoners Defenders, based in Madrid, also notes the case of the detainees from the Obispo Street protest and of Eliexer Márquez El Funky, who was also detained for a few hours, on May 18, and subjected to “a precautionary measure that prevents him from leaving his home freely.”
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