14ymedio, Havana, 15 September 2021 — The American magazine Time has names the Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara as one of 2021’s 100 most influential people of 2021, in the feature’s opening section labeled “Icons.”
The most visible face of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), who is now once again imprisoned since the protests of July 11, appears with, among others, the Korean-American poet, writer and teacher Cathy Park Hong, the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and the prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotudeh.
The magazine highlights his fight for freedom of expression and his uncompromising stance against power and recognizes that Otero Alcántara “is a symbol of and a leader” for the MSI, which it defines as “an influential group of artists and intellectuals” who demand greater freedoms in Cuba.
The recognition comes at a time when the Cuban government is keeping the artist in jail, accused of the crimes of “public disorder,” “instigation to commit a crime,” and “contempt” for events that occurred last April when a collective birthday was celebrated that ended with the residents of the neighborhood in the street chanting the musical theme Patria y Vida.
A victim of harassment and persecution by the political police since 2018, Otero Alcántara has suffered dozens of arbitrary arrests without bowing down in his fight for freedom of expression in Cuba.
The repression against the artist intensified in November 2020, when several activists began a hunger strike to demand the release of rapper Denis Solís, until the police broke into the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement in Havana Vieja on the night of November 26 and arrested the 14 activists who were inside the building.
This action led to a group of artists and intellectuals arriving on November 27 at the entrance of the Ministry of Culture to demand a response from the authorities of the sector, an unprecedented protest in this group mainly caused by the outrage generated by the repression against the strikers in the arts union.
But the harassment did not end there, at the end of last April Otero Alcántara once again declared a hunger and thirst strike to demand that his rights be respected, after living through more than a month of police siege to his home to prevent him from going out on the streets.
On that occasion, State Security entered his home at dawn and transferred him to the Calixto García Hospital, where he was constantly under the control of the political police without explanation, until he was released a month later.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.