PEN America Decries Detention and Apparent Assault of Cuban Artists
Violent arrest and detention part of broader crackdown on artistic freedom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) – PEN America is deeply concerned about the detention of independent Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and rapper and musician Maykel Osorbo. Both were released Friday morning with signs of assault. In response to the news, Julie Trébault, director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), said:
“In what is indisputably part of the Cuban government’s ongoing efforts to terrorize independent artists, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Osorbo were detained and assaulted by police on Thursday night. When they were released, they were wounded and covered in blood. Both have been vocal opponents of Decree 349, a 2018 regulation that gives Cuban authorities broad remit to regulate the cultural sector. Osorbo was allegedly arrested for not wearing a facemask, and Alcántara for filming that arrest. Not long after, curator Anamely Ramos was reportedly beaten without justification by the police while she tried to investigate the artists’ arbitrary detentions.
“Otero Alcántara and Osorbo have been arrested repeatedly in the past. Such brutal harassment merely confirms a constant trend of repression and violence toward dissident voices in Cuba. The goal of such deplorable acts is clear: silence dissent, terrorize artists, and limit freedom of expression. We wholeheartedly condemn the Cuban government for these detentions and disturbing physical assaults.”
Otero Alcántara, asked by PEN America about the circumstances of his arrest and health on Friday evening, replied:
“With pain in the body and angry because this happens to many young people, but with a lot of strength to continue fighting for freedom!”
PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection, a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.