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Cuban Dictatorship Slaps Artists With Lengthy Sentences for Sharing Anti-Communism Memes

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, El American

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Cuban artists and dissidents Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo Perez “Osorbo” were sentenced to 5 and 9 years in prison respectively, the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Cuba (FGR) reported on Friday.

Otero Alcantara and Castillo Perez were punished by the dictatorial Cuban regime for the alleged crimes of insulting the symbols of the homeland, contempt and public disorder, for the first one, and contempt, attack, public disorder and defamation of institutions and organizations, heroes and martyrs in the case of Osorbo, according to a release from the Prosecutor’s Office.

The trial of both artists — considered prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International (AI) — was held on May 30 and 31 in Havana at the Marianao Municipal Court.

The trial was not linked to last year’s anti-government protests, but to events that took place on April 4, 2021. That day, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, Osorbo had a clash with some agents, apparently caused because his companion was not wearing a mask.

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Castillo Perez managed to escape, with handcuffs on his wrist, and went to Otero Alcantara’s house and shouted anti-dictatorship chants from there.

The Prosecutor’s Office gathered previous incidents such as “offensive writings against the flag” in the networks, publishing “memes” on Facebook to “ridicule and discredit” the Cuban dictator, Miguel Díaz-Canel.

International organizations and various European embassies tried, without success, to gain access to the hearings. During these days, a heavy security operation was deployed around the Court.

According to several activists, Castillo Pérez ended his statement by telling the judge: “I hope that the sentence you decide, Your Honor, will be that of your own conscience.”

The human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and AI have demanded that they be released “immediately and unconditionally.” In addition, on June 17, a total of 17 NGOs joined the calls for the release of the two opponents.

The Prosecutor’s Office had initially requested 7 years in prison for Otero Alcantara, leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) and imprisoned since last July 11, and 10 years for Castillo Perez, co-author of the song “Patria y vida” — the anthem of the 11J protests — and who has been imprisoned for a year.

In addition to them, the Court sentenced Juslid Justiz Lazo and Reina Sierra Duvergel to 5 years of imprisonment for the attack to the opponents Felix Roque Delgado and to 3 years of corrective labour without internment.