Dissident Cuban artist to 'continue the struggle' after hospital release

WION Web Team
Havana, Cuba Updated: Jun 01, 2021, 06:40 PM IST

Dissident artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara (file photo) Photograph:(Reuters)

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Otero Alcantara, 33, was released earlier in the day from the General Calixto Garcia university hospital, which announced "his complete recovery"

Dissident Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara vowed on Monday to 'continue the struggle' after spending almost a month in hospital following a hunger strike.

Otero Alcantara, 33, was released earlier in the day from the General Calixto Garcia university hospital, which announced 'his complete recovery'.

Associates had claimed he was forcibly taken to hospital after starting a hunger strike that lasted eight days.

"After a month in the hands of the beast, we'll see how things go in the streets to continue the struggle," Otero Alcantara said in a video published by opposition media Cubanet.

He said state security forces had taken his mobile telephone and left him "literally a month without communication and with little access to my family," adding that he would soon "recount everything that happened to me."

Otero 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 nation.

The Cuban government accuses Otero Alcantara of being financed by the United States, which has had sanctions in place against Cuba for decades.

He went on hunger strike last month to protest against authorities seizing several of his works when he was arrested during a demonstration.

He was admitted to hospital on May 2.

His release was announced by the Havana public health authority.

Otero Alcantara "reiterated his gratitude to the personnel that looked after him at every opportunity," said the hospital.

In the early days of his hospital stay, authorities released videos of him appearing in good health but those close to Otero Alcantara said they had been unable to communicate with him.

Amnesty International described him as a 'prisoner of conscience' while the US demanded his immediate release.

After his arrest last month, he was freed but rearrested several times for trying to leave his home, which had been surrounded by police.

During his hunger strike, his internet service was cut off and police prevented people, including two priests, from visiting Otero Alcantara.

The MSI claimed he'd been taken to hospital by force and that official medical reports on his condition were 'confusing and contradictory'.

In a sign of solidarity, last week around 20 Cuban artists asked that their works in Havana's Fine Arts Museum be hidden from public view.

The museum rejected the request, saying it wasn't in 'the public interest's

Painter Tomas Sanchez, 73, wrote on Facebook: "Cuban art is going through dark times ... the criminalization of difference is not -- and never will be -- a path towards coexistence."

(With inputs from agencies)