14ymedio, Havana, 27 May 2021 — On Wednesday, the newspaper Tribuna de La Habana published an article on its website in which it described as a “group of mercenaries paid by Washington” the group of Cuban artists who have signed a letter addressed to the National Museum of Fine Arts to demand that their works be withdraw from exhibition, in solidarity with their colleague Otero Alcántara. Less than 24 hours later the newspaper deleted the article.
The text, signed by the paper’s deputy director, Raúl San Miguel, presented the artists’ initiative as an “attack” against the Museum that aims to “create a media snowball to beatify the criminal Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara.”
“The particularity of the demand is part of a known strategy to try to mobilize international public opinion with the aim of sustaining the image of a criminal whose work can never be considered art and, in the case of the signatories, their works if they are not exhibited will not create a situation of chaos in the middle of the strong square which the artistic exhibition spaces on the internet have become,” the note added.
The columnist also mentioned each of the initial signatories of the letter: Tania Bruguera, Tomás Sánchez, Marco Castillo (former member of Los Carpinteros), Jorge Luis Marrero, Sandra Ceballos, Celia-Yunior (Celia González and Yunior Aguiar) and Reynier Leyva Novo, describing them as “trained in Cuban art schools after 1959” but now “turned into mercenaries in the service of the United States Government.”
In the text, deleted without explanation, San Miguel said that the attitude of the artists towards the institution is “arrogance” and “a felony that will in no way cause any damage to the patrimony of the nation.”
The author described the EFE agency, accredited on the island as a “sponsor of these subversive attacks” and also called out the correspondent for calling Otero Alcántara a “prisoner of conscience,” without noting that it is Amnesty International which applied the designation to the artist, following the Cuban government’s persecution and harassment of him.
According to Tribuna de La Habana, the Spanish agency is “in tune with the efforts to lie to international public opinion about the true mercenary purposes of this citizen and his optimal state of health which was demonstrated by the results of the medical evaluations that he received at the Calixto García University Hospital.”
Regarding the hunger and thirst strike carried out by Otero Alcántara, the most visible face of the San Isidro Movement, the article claimed that it was “assisted with logistical support from the United States Embassy in Havana” and described it as “supposed.”
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.