Cuba: dissident artist released from hospital after four weeks | Arts and Culture News


Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro protest movement, was admitted to hospital on May 2 after the hunger strike.

A dissident Cuban artist who spent eight days on hunger strike has been released from hospital, the Havana public health authority said on Monday.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the 33-year-old San Isidro (MSI) protest movement of artists and intellectuals, driven by greater freedom of expression, went on a hunger strike last month to protest against authorities who they confiscated several of his works.

He was hospitalized on May 2, eight days after the hunger strike.

“I am very happy and relieved, now he is at least at home,” Otero Alcantara’s friend and activist partner Iris Ruiz told Reuters news agency. “Before there was so much uncertainty.”

General Calixto Garcia University Hospital where he was treated announced “his complete recovery” and said Otero Alcantara “reiterated his gratitude to the staff who cared for him on each occasion.”

In the first days of his stay in the hospital, the authorities published videos about him that appeared in good health, but those close to Otero Alcántara said that they had not been able to communicate with him.

Amnesty International earlier this month described him as a “prisoner of conscience”, saying state security appeared to have him under supervision and incommunicado at the hospital.

U.S. State Department official Julie Chung had expressed concern about the state of Otero Alcantara when she was admitted to the hospital and urged the Cuban government to “take immediate steps to protect her life. and their health “.

The U.S. embassy in Cuba also said at the time that Otero Alcántara, like all Cubans, “deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

After his arrest last month, he was released, but was re-arrested several times for attempting to leave his home, which had been surrounded by police.

During the hunger strike, its Internet service was cut off and police prevented people, including two priests, from visiting Otero Alcántara.

The MSI claimed he had been taken to hospital by force and that official medical reports about his condition were “confusing and contradictory”.

As a sign of solidarity, last week about twenty Cuban artists demanded that their works at the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana be hidden from public view. The museum rejected the request, saying it was not “in the public interest.”

The 73-year-old painter Tomas Sánchez wrote on Facebook: “Cuban art is going through dark times … the criminalization of difference is not – and never will be – a path to coexistence.”

Members of the San Isidro Movement celebrated a rare protest before the Ministry of Culture, in November, against the curtailment of freedom of expression and the arrest of artists and activists.

Since then, authorities have led the state media to denounce its members and allies as agitators working with the U.S. to destabilize the government. The group has denied the allegations.

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