Cuba will request between seven and 10 years in prison for opposition artists Luis Manuel Otero and Maykel Castillo | International


The rapper Maykel Castillo (i), popularly known as Osorbo, and the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara.RRSS / REUTERS

The Cuban prosecutor’s office will request 10 years in prison for the rapper Maykel Castillo, popularly known as Osorbo, and another seven years in prison for the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, as reported this Thursday by close friends of the singer from his social networks. The two opponents of the Cuban regime have been imprisoned for months. Castillo is co-author of homeland and life, a song that became the anthem of the social protests that spread across the island last July against the regime of Miguel Díaz-Canel, inherited from Castroism. For that song, which turns the old motto of the Cuban revolution ‘Homeland or death’, the singer won two Latin Grammys in 2021.

Otero Alcántara, for his part, is part of the San Isidro Movement, an artistic collective created in Havana in 2018 in response to a controversial official decree that regulates the work of artists. The organization was heavily repressed last year for its acts of dissent. Otero Alcántara is accused of crimes such as incitement to commit a crime, aggravated contempt and public disorder. The authorities assure that he committed them before July 11 of last year, the date on which he was arrested when he tried to join the historic protests that shook the communist country. He has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Castillo has been in prison since May 18, accused of “attack, public disorder and escape of prisoners or detainees,” according to the official website Cubadebate in June, citing sources from the Ministry of the Interior. The rapper was the first artist to win two Grammys from prison. The singer’s relatives denounce that his health has deteriorated in prison, from which he has carried out hunger and thirst strikes.

In a letter spread from Castillo’s social networks, they promise to give more details about the crimes that are imputed to each one. “For now it is difficult to even think, but we will do all the analyzes and the pertinent calls. We will not leave them alone,” the statement read. “Besides the sadness, and the anger, I try to focus on the sound of Maykel’s voice the last time we spoke, telling me that he knew everything that could happen, that he knows who he is and that he is prepared. We all have to be to fight, ”adds the text, which is unsigned.

The prosecutor’s request was confirmed on Twitter by opposition activist Anamely Ramos, who was prevented by Cuban authorities from entering the country last February, when she intended to return after a study trip to Mexico. “They are innocent and should not spend another minute in prison,” Ramos said. The administration of the president of the United States, Joe Biden, has also insistently demanded that Havana release both artists.

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The US Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian A. Nichols, urged on Wednesday “Cuban officials to give immediate medical attention to Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who remains seriously ill and detained.” “The Cuban regime must embrace the next generation of Cuban voices, not fear or silence them,” Nichols added on Twitter. In the same social network, the United States embassy in Cuba highlighted that “the winner of the Latin Grammy, Maykel Osorbo, has been languishing in a Cuban prison since May 2021, after months of harassment for his peaceful support for freedom.”

“At the moment, I try to control my incendiary impulses in the face of a reality that disarms me: the same ones always get screwed, those whom power considered disposable since they were born always get the worst part. The good news is that they are no longer disposable, they themselves became protagonists and essential. From a prison or from wherever, Maykel and Luis are an inspiration and symbol for Cubans,” concludes the statement released from Castillo’s networks.

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