Update and Legal Analysis on the Case of Jailed Rapper Maykel ‘Osorbo’ Castillo / Cubalex

Maykel remained in the middle of the street with his handcuffs hanging from his wrist, an image that has become an icon and evidence of the State’s repression of its citizens.

Cubalex, 3 June 2021 — On May 18 Maykel Castillo was arrested while he was at his house having lunch. They took him away without a shirt or shoes, and for 13 days he was in “forced disappearance.” The people close to him who went to ask about him at the police station were denied information–the police claimed that Castillo was not registered in the system. His whereabouts were unknown until May 31, when it was learned that he had been transferred to 5-y-Medio Prison in Pinar del Río.

During this time neither State Security nor the police released information about Maykel or the reasons for his arrest. The political police even went to his house and seized his cell phones without a search warrant or a record of expropriation.

On April 4, as the musician was about to arrive at the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, the police carried out a forced detention, without legal justification and in violation of his right to move freely. After being confined in his home for days by agents of State Security, the San Isidro neighborhood intervened so that they would not take him away, blocking the patrol; Maykel remained in the middle of the street with his handcuffs hanging from his wrist, an image that has become an icon and evidence of the State’s repression of its citizens.

According to the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) the act was committed on April 4, 2021, when Maykel Castillo interfered in the action of the police. But it was not until May 18 (44 days later) that he was arrested and transferred to the Investigative Body of the MININT, decreeing the prosecutor’s precautionary measure of provisional imprisonment.

He was transferred on May 31 from Havana to the province of Pinar del Río, without knowing the reasons for his relocation, in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis on the island and scarcity of resources. Being far from his place of residence makes it difficult to have access to his lawyer and his family visits, due to the closure of provinces with Covid-19 restrictions.

It is striking that Cubadebate’s account asserts that the crimes for which he is being prosecuted are: Attack, Public Disorders, and Evasion of Prisoners or Detainees. But when the First Criminal Chamber of the People’s Provincial Court of Havana issued a judicial Resolution on May 24, 2021, it acknowledged that it had carefully examined the Preparatory Phase File 24/21 OEI-DCSE for the crimes of Attack, Resistance, and Contempt. The file was opened almost a month after the event occurred, all of which leaves room for a question: Who is lying, judges Alennis Vázquez Flores, Zamira Narrero Morgado, Greta Bernal Vila, Liliam Portel Gil, and ZeydaTorres Medina or Cubadebate, the official state information medium?

It is important to remember that the IACHR (The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; in Spanish, CIDH), issued a precautionary measure on February 11, 2021 as stated in Resolution 14/2021 in favor of the members of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), among whom is Maykel Castillo. The IACHR asked the Cuban State to adopt the necessary measures to protect their rights against acts of risk attributable to the Cuban authorities themselves and to guarantee that they can carry out their activities as human rights defenders — everything that is being violated by his arrest and submission to an unjustified criminal process.

Translated by Tomás A.