Hundreds of artists and intellectuals have signed a petition demanding that the Cuban government release Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was arrested last Sunday while on his way to an anti-censorship protest organised by the local LGBTQ community. The artist and activist could face between two and five years in prison.
“This attack is not only against Otero Alcántara, but against all of the artistic and intellectual community, and against Cuban civil society in its totality,” reads the petition, started by artist and writer Coco Fusco and signed by nearly 900 cultural figures so far. “It’s an offensive that feeds itself on fomenting fear in order to win the complicity and silence of all Cubans.”
Currently in custody at Villa Grande, Otero Alcántara is scheduled to appear in court for an “abbreviated trial process,” according to the non-profit organisation PEN America, which condemned his detention in a press release.
“The charges against Luis Manuel are the most disturbing iteration yet of the Cuban government’s ongoing attempts to terrorise him into silence,” said Julie Trébault, Director of the Artists at Risk Connection at PEN America. “The baseless charges levelled against Luis Manuel and sheer lack of due process he has received are part and parcel of the Cuban authorities’ ongoing efforts to muzzle dissent, intimidate artists, and restrict freedom of expression. We call on the Cuban government to drop all the charges against him and to cease the harassment and censorship of independent artists, writers, and thinkers.”