Who is Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, the Cuban artist challenging the Castro dictatorship?

Some information and context for those of you who don’t know Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and how he has brought international attention to the struggle for freedom in communist Cuba.

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Cuban Dissident Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara on Day 8 of a hunger and thirst strike: Some context informed by past actions and nonviolence theory

“I think they kill my child every time they deprive a person of their right to think.” – José Martí

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is on the eighth day of a hunger and thirst strike, and in increasingly poor health. He is engaged in a profound dialogue with a regime that for decades has refused to listen, to really listen, to Cuban citizens petitioning for and demanding change. This dialogue has been going on for at least three years. He has tried all types of protests, petitions, performance art pieces, and music videos in defense of freedom of expression, especially artistic expression.

In his third lecture in 2006 of his peace and conflict studies course “164A: Intro to Nonviolence” non-violence practitioner and academic at Berkeley University Michael Nagler explained that “it would not be appropriate for a person who had not tried in every way possible, first, to communicate with the person, then when they refused to listen to you, you move into various forms of civil disobedience. Or in other ways, you take on the suffering and the situation. And finally, when all that has failed – if all that has failed, then you move into something drastic like refusal to eat.”

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara since 2018 has been engaged in a dialogue with the Cuban government demanding that artistic freedom in Cuba be respected and expanded. The dialogue was initiated when the Cuban government announced Decree 349, a dystopian law that further restricted artistic freedoms in the already existing state of repression that existed.

In an interview with Amnesty International in 2019, Luis Manuel said: “I’m like the tip of the iceberg. We are talking about an endless number of artists in Cuba. [The authorities] come after me, because as I am supposedly the most visible of the youth, activists-artists, they send the message ‘Well, if we lock this one up, look what we can do to you lot.’”

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