His fellow dissidents say Otero Alcántara was shot for treatment against his will and thatthey have not heard from him,other than through videos released by Cuba`s state-run media.
Cuban health officials said, if he was admitted, Otero Alcántara didn`t appear to have been deprived of food or water and on Tuesday said he is eating and drinking, raising the question of why he remains hospitalized and incommunicado.In one of the movies which was released, Otero Alcántara appears in great health, joking with a hospital secretary while affirming”that I am likely to keep demanding my rights as an artist”Cuban health officials say Otero Alcántara is undergoing testing and is being treated willingly.While the Cuban government grapples with the financial impacts of the coronavirus and tougher US sanctions, Otero Alcántara and his small set of tech-savvy”artivists” are increasinglya source of frustration for officials on the communist-run island.Back in tweets and movies uploaded into social media, Otero Alcántara and other members of his San Isidro Movement have documented their effort in real time against official censorship and the Cuban police and security officials which frequently shadow their every movement.”We`re connected,” is a regular refrain and hashtag within his messages, a reference to the recent advent of mobile to the country, which has allowed many Cubans to bypass state-run media and communicate directly with rest of the world and their fellow Cubans.
Some Cuban officials assert thatthe self-taught Otero Alcántara is not actually a performer, which speaks to his assertion that government bureaucrats should not decide what qualifies as art on the island.At times Otero Alcántara has threatened to drive a wedge between the government and Cuban artists, who lately have enjoyed a unique status that allowed them to criticize the government, albeit indirectly, and legally make hard currency by selling their job to tourists and consumers overseas.In November, police arrested Otero Alcántara and fans during a hunger strike, alleging they had violated health restrictions set up to stop the spread of the pandemic.Within hours, a few hundred unsigned artists and pupils staged a rare sit-in protest beyond the Cuban Ministry of Culture and a few of the island`s most best known cultural figures voiced their support to Otero Alcántara and greater freedom of expression.
Cuban officials quickly released Otero Alcántara and claimed he was a part of a US”soft coup” against the island.”The show is quite similar to people staged on other events by other mercenary groups and puppets at the service of the U.S. government,” a post mentioned in the Cuban communist party newspaper Granma about Otero Alcántara days following the protest. “The new show, orchestrated from Washington and Miami, is a part of strategies for subversion against Cuba.”But Otero Alcántara, an Afro-Cuban millennial who resides in a downtrodden area of Old Havana that tourists seldom venture into, doesn`t fit the traditional image of an anti-Castro militant fighting to return the island to the times before the revolution. And he is particularly adept at leveraging the obstacles Cuban officials throw athim as a form of performance art that creates more attention for his movement.While his activism, up to now, does not appear to be an existential threat to the Cuban government, it`s nonethelessproved unnerving to officials. The video for the song, which has become an anthem for anti-government immunity, has obtained five million viewpoints on YouTube.Back in April, when police surrounded his home, he put in an exhibition at which he sat restrained with a garrote about his neck.Following he accused State Security representatives of seizing his artwork, Otero Alcántara demanded $500,000 in settlement and said he was, again, going on a hunger strike.”I shall fight to the last breath for my artistic freedom,” he wrote in a popular message. “In my body dies, I hope it will be a spark to the liberty of Cuba.”When Otero Alcántara was carried to the hospital in May, physicians released a statement stating the activist”showed no signs of adultery,” trying to cast doubt on his hunger strike, but said he would stay”under observation.” But save 1 video where he briefly speaks, he hasn`t been heard from and his fans say they have been obstructed by police from seeing him in person.
As Cuban officials try to accommodate into Otero Alcántara`s new brand of activism, the government runs the risk of threatening potentially improved connections with the Biden government, which so much is moving gradually on participating with the island.”Like all Cubans, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” the US Embassy in Havana submitted on Twitter. “We have seen reports that he is in hospital and thathis state is steady. We urge the police to safeguard his well-being in this challenging moment.”Some Cuban artists assert that if greater liberty of expression were permitted, the tension with the musicians and state would ease.”These little scandals will finish the day that they legalize protests,” famed singer Silvio Rodriguez, a long-time supporter of the Cuban revolution, wrote on his blog. “Licensed protests. Democratic socialism. And the police protecting people who exercise their faith,” he continued.But best Cuban officials warn thata harsher crackdown could be on the horizon.”Into the mercenary lumpen who earn money from everyone`s fate, to people who request an invasion, to people who always offend with deeds and words,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in a televised speech in April while accepting the powerful post of head of the Cuban communist party,”understand that the patience of the people has limitations”