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Dispute in Havana over artist on hunger strike leaves several arrested

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Dozens of people, police, and Cuban State Security agents staged a dispute this Friday in Havana when several activists tried to visit the house of artist and dissident Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, on hunger strike for six days.

“We are all going to see Luis Manuel,” exclaimed the activists concentrated on Obispo Street in the popular neighborhood of Old Havana, as shown in the video transmitted live by one of them on Facebook that has gone viral after being replicated by many other users on social networks.

Dispute in Havana over artist on hunger strike leaves several arrested
The dispute in Havana over an artist on hunger strike leaves several arrested. (Photo internet reproduction)

SLOGANS THAT CAUSE ARRESTS

The video shows that several agents – dressed in police, military, and civilian clothes – intercept the activists. After the activists sit on the ground in protest and shout slogans, the authorities try to arrest some of them, which provokes the rejection of others who were in the place.

The opponents, for their part, rebuke the agents with shouts of protest such as “down with communism”, “down with the dictatorship”, “Luis Manuel is dying” or “there is no medicine, there is no food”, about the serious situation of shortages in the country.

While the agents put several detainees in police vehicles, activists and neighbors record the scene with their cell phones.

Dozens of those present chant the phrase “Patria y vida” (Homeland and life), the title of the recent musical hit by Yotuel, Orishas, and Descemer Bueno, which has become the new slogan of the opponents of the Cuban government.

The video also shows a man who tries to display a sign but is quickly taken away by security forces. The broadcast ends showing a police van with several detainees inside, one of them handcuffed from behind.

FIVE DAYS ON HUNGER AND THIRST STRIKE

The 33-year-old Cuban artist and dissident Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the opposition San Isidro Movement (MSI), declared himself on a hunger and thirst strike last Saturday after agents raided his home and broke ten of his works.

He also denounced that he was arrested several days in a row and received intimidation in jail.

Efe tried to visit the artist’s home this Friday to check on his state of health. The two entrances to that section of the street were guarded by police vehicles and security agents, who denied access, alleging an alleged “outbreak of coronavirus”.

Later, in a telephone conversation, Otero Alcántara told Efe that he is suffering from chest and abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness after five days without eating or drinking.

Several international organizations have denounced the situation, among them Amnesty International (AI), which called on artists and activists to show solidarity with the MSI.

“The Cuban government is not ashamed to harass them, detain them and constantly monitor them in the eyes of the international community, but they are not alone, and they will not be silenced,” said Erika Guevara, AI’s director for the Americas, in a statement.

Cuban authorities, for their part, consider both Otero Alcántara and other opponents to be “mercenaries” working in the pay of the CIA or other U.S. organizations to carry out subversive activities against the current socialist system.

Source: efe

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