Index on Censorship calls for the immediate release of Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, a member of the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award-winning Museum of Dissidence. This is the second time he has been arrested in two weeks.
Otero Alcantara was performing a homage to Daniel Llorente, which involved a footrace with American flags outside his home. Llorente demonstrated with the American flag in 2017 during Havana’s annual May Day celebrations. Otero Alcantara was detained along with two other artists and his whereabouts is currently unknown.
The head of Cuba’s National Council of Visual Arts, Norma Rodriguez, told Reuters in a press conference that Otero Alcantara “is an activist, not an artist”.
Michel Matus, an artist who captured Otero Alcantara’s arrest on video, wrote a statement on the harassment and threats he faced for filming and for being part of the campaign against Decree 349, a law that criminalises independent artists and places severe restrictions on cultural activity not authorised by the state. Matus was called into a police station to show the deeds to his home to prove ownership. He was interrogated for over nine hours about the campaign, his family and Otero Alcantara.
“Artists should not be criminalised for freely expressing themselves,” said Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg. “The Cuban government should immediately release Luis Manuel and other jailed artists and end its repressive intimidation tactics.”