PEN America Condemns Arbitrary Arrest and Sentencing of Cuban Rapper
Organization calls arrest and sentencing a blatant attack on freedom of expression in Cuba
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — Cuban rapper Denis Solís González was sentenced to eight months in prison for “contempt of authority” earlier this month. In a statement today, PEN America condemned Solís’s imprisonment, calling it a blatant attack on freedom of expression and part of an alarming governmental culture of hostility toward dissenting artistic voices in Cuba.
On November 9, Solís shared a video on social media in which he reproaches and then throws out a police officer who had entered his home. On the video, Solís can be heard asking the officer, “Who gave you permission to enter?” and at no point does the officer appear to produce a warrant. Soon after sharing the video, Solís was detained. On November 11, he was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for “contempt of authority,” at a summary trial in which he did not have an attorney.
“This case looks more like a legal ambush than the administration of justice,” said Julie Trébault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “Denis Solís’s video appears to indicate that this officer had no right to enter his home, and yet he was arrested. Solís had his right to a fair trial trampled, and yet he was convicted. This is not the first time the Cuban government has attempted to silence Solís and these newest charges simply demonstrate the extent to which the Cuban government will go to silence critical artists. We call on the Cuban authorities to release Denis Solís González and drop all charges against him.”
Solís is a member of the San Isidro Movement, an artistic collective known for its critical artistic commentary. On November 12, just days after Solís was arrested, other members of the San Isidro Movement—including Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who has been arrested over 20 times since 2017—were detained while protesting. Several members are now on hunger strike after authorities refused to allow food to be delivered to the group’s headquarters.
PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. Their report, Art Under Pressure, details the effect of Decree 349, a regulation that gives authorities wide remit to limit the cultural sector on artists and activists in Cuba. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, please contact ARC.
**PEN America experts are available for interviews in English and Spanish. // Los expertos de PEN América están disponibles para entrevistas en inglés y español.**