Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro movement, went on hunger strike to protest the confiscation of his art.
One of Cuba’s top dissident artists has been hospitalized after a week-long hunger strike in protest of the government’s confiscation of his art, and health officials in the Havana capital say he is in stable condition. .
Havana’s public health department said Sunday that Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, 33, leader of the San Isidro protest movement (MSI), had been taken to Calixto Garcia General University Hospital.
The department said he had symptoms of “voluntary starvation,” but he was stable and doctors treated him.
Several of Otero Alcántara’s works were seized when he was arrested earlier this month during a protest action. Sunday marked the eighth day of the hunger strike.
Members of MSI, a group of artists and activists demanding freedom of speech and more freedoms, said state security had forced Otero Alcantara out of his home and that he was detained, presumably in hospital.
They questioned the report and demanded more information. “How is it possible that you have no signs of malnutrition or dehydration after being on hunger and thirst strike for more than seven days?” said the group on Twitter.
The house of Otero Alcántara had been surrounded by police for days without anyone being able to enter or leave during the hunger strike.
“Luis Manuel can no longer stand up, his skin and mouth are dry, he doesn’t urinate or talk. His throat is swollen, “MSI colleague Amaury Pacheco, a poet, said on Twitter on Saturday.
That same day, U.S. State Department official Julie Chung was concerned about the state of Otero Alcantara and urged the Cuban government to “take immediate steps to protect her life and health. “.
The U.S. embassy in Cuba said Sunday that Otero Alcantara, like all Cubans, “deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“We have seen reports that he is hospitalized and that his condition is stable. We urge the authorities to protect their well-being in these difficult times “, tweeted the embassy.
The United States is extremely concerned about the well-being of the Cuban activist @LMOAlcantara and urges the Cuban government to take immediate steps to protect his life and health.
– Julie Chung (@WHAAsstSecty) May 1, 2021
Directed MSI members rare public protests and hunger strike in November, to demand more freedom of expression and an end to harassment by the Cuban authorities.
The Cuban government accuses Otero Alcantara and other MSI members of US-funded political revolt.
PEN America, a U.S.-based group that supports freedom of expression around the world, backed Otero Alcantara on April 26, accusing the Cuban government of harassing him in the context of a campaign to restrict artistic expression.
“Once again, the life and livelihood of Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara are in grave danger due to the incessant disregard of the Cuban authorities for freedom of expression and basic human decency,” dit Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection project at PEN America.
“This hunger strike is clearly an act of last resort to denounce everything he has suffered: unjust surveillance, house arrest, imprisonment and destruction of his works. Artists should not have to put health and well-being on the line simply to defend their right to express themselves.