The Trial of Cuban Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara is Set for May 30

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, in a file image. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 23 May 2022 — More than ten months after sending him to jail, the authorities have finally set a date for the trial of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI). The trial will be this coming May 30 and 31 at the Municipal Court of Marianao, in Havana

This same Monday, the curator Claudia Genlui published a voice message from the artist from the maximum security prison of Guanajay, Artemisa, dated May 17, in which she says that “in these months the regime has given me, as  the only way out of prison, the option of exile outside of Cuba, otherwise I will spend seven years in prison.”

About this, Alcántara recounts the “inhuman persecution and repression” that he has suffered from the regime in recent years – which include not having been able to spend more time with his mother and grandmother, who died, and not being able to be with his son, and that his family and friends have lived “terrified,” and that his works of art have been destroyed — to assert: “We have endured all this and more in search of a dream and for the responsibility for the Cuba of today and tomorrow. And they are dreams that nothing has erased even today.” For those dreams, he says he is willing “to sacrifice the artist’s flesh, my artist’s flesh, my freedom-loving spirit.”

“I want to teach my son to fight for his ideas, for love and for a dream and for his dreams, despite everything,” he says in the message, implying that he will not give in to the regime’s offer.

The artist begins his audio offering condolences for “the victims of the Saratoga Hotel,” something that he affirms affected him a lot and filled him with impotence. In addition, he assures that his health “is well within what is possible.”

At the end of last April, Amnesty International denounced that, due to the hunger strikes carried out by Alcántara and the lack of medical attention in the maximum security prison of Guanajay, where he is located, the artist lost the sight of one eye.

In this regard, Alcántara apologizes to those who have been concerned about his strikes. “These are born of moods in the face of the aberration of the dictatorship. But luckily, until today, I have found spiritual answers that make me reborn,” he says.

Similarly, he says goodbye asking “not to lose faith in the triumph of good, truth and freedom.” At the same time, he exhorts: “Don’t leave me alone. Let’s not leave Cuba’s course in the hands of a dictator or in the course of destiny.”

“For my part, as long as music gives me strength, even if they put me in the most hidden dungeon in Guantanamo or under a stone, I will find a way for my art to reach them and continue betting on all freedom,” he continues. “These are not the words of a clinging male who wants to play the tough, the bastard or the one who can do everything. On the contrary, I am a vulnerable guy, but, above all, I am a dreamer artist of ’homeland and life’ who He’s super connected.”

The artist also has words for the protests of July 11 (11J), the date he was arrested before he could participate in a demonstration. “Soon it will be a year since the last peaceful and unprecedented mobilization of the Cuban people in search of their freedom. This year I had not said how proud I am to be Cuban and of this people inside and outside the Island. I am I’m sure freedom will come very soon, very soon.”

Despite being arrested on 11J, Alcántara’s case is part of the same file under which the musician Maykel Castillo Osorbo is also accused, whose appearance before the court could be the same day 30 or the next, May 31 .

Both are prosecuted for events that occurred on April 4, 2021, when they went out to Damas street, headquarters of the MSI, in Old Havana, to sing Patria y Vida, before the eyes of the neighbors, who then helped the prevent the police from arresting Osorbo.

The Island Prosecutor’s Office requested seven years in prison for Alcántara for aggravated contempt, public disorder and instigation to commit a crime, and ten years for Osorbo, for attack, public disorder and escape of prisoners or detainees. The musician, arrested on May 18 of last year and transferred on May 31 to the maximum security prison of Kilo Cinco y Medio, in Pinar del Río, where he remains, still does not have a trial date.

In addition, Alcántara carries the weight of the accusation of ’outrage to the patriotic symbols’, for carrying out the work or art Drapeau with the Cuban flag.  

To defend him from this accusation, his lawyers have called as witnesses other artists, friends of the MSI leader: Julio Llópiz-Casal, Lázaro Saavedra and Amaury Pacheco.

Both he and Osorbo won, earlier this May, the 2022 Freedom Award granted by the human rights organization Freedom House.

The president of this NGO, Michael J. Abramowitz, declared then: “As we face enormous challenges to freedom around the world, it is an honor to celebrate the incredible courage of this year’s laureates to stand up to tyranny.”


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