Being a dissident in Cuba is dangerous, but being a black dissident can be deadly. No lives matter in Cuba, but for the communist Castro dictatorship, black lives matter even less.
Fears grow for Cuban artist 7 months after arrest
Seven months after his arrest, loved ones of Cuban dissident artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara worry for his health, locked away mostly incommunicado in a high-security prison.
Named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2021, the government in Havana considers the 34-year-old a mercenary in the service of the United States, which is calling for his release.
The last time his girlfriend Claudia Genlui could speak to Alcantara, by telephone, was on January 18. Since then, he has started a hunger strike. It’s not his first.
Then earlier this month, Genlui got a telephone call from a family member of a fellow inmate who reported that Alcantara “was not doing well, that he has lost a lot of weight, that he has almost no strength left to walk and that he hardly speaks,” she told AFP.
Alcantara is the leader of the San Isidro protest movement (MSI) of artists and intellectuals pressing for free speech and other rights in the communist island nation.
The Cuban government accuses him of political revolt funded by the United States, which has had sanctions in place against Cuba for six decades.
On July 11 last year, when thousands of Cubans spilled onto the streets in a spontaneous outburst of anger against economic hardship and repression, Alcantara set out to join them.
But, already in the government’s sights, he was arrested shortly after leaving Genlui’s home, before he could even participate in the protest.
Since then, he has been held at the Guanajay maximum security jail 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Havana.
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