CubaBrief: Cuban dissident held in hospital for 15 days, regime claims from the first day that he is in good health. Brother of dissident jailed for holding up a sign interviewed

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara held in hospital for 15 days, but the regime claims he is in good health.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara held in hospital for 15 days, but the regime claims he is in good health.

15 days have passed since opposition activist and independent artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was taken from his home by State Security on Sunday, May 2, 2021 and transferred him to the Calixto García Hospital located in the Cuban capital. Some family members were able to finally see him, but the secretive situation continues to concern human rights defenders. Officials claim that he is in good health, but he is not allowed to leave the hospital or communicate by phone or with anyone beyond some family members.

There is reason to be concerned.

“In the past, the Calixto García Hospital and other Cuban hospitals have been the scene of the death of other opponents under the control of the agents of the Ministry of the Interior, as was the case of the leader of the Ladies in White Laura Pollán Toledo in October 2011. The agents of the political police isolate the person, do not allow the entry of their relatives or friends, and the treatment they apply or the one they stop applying to lead them to death is unknown. There are numerous cases of unexplained deaths in hospitals on the Island under the custody of State Security. Another case was that of the blind opponent Sergio Díaz Larrastegui in April 2012,” explained Janisset Rivero, who for years has documented these cases and is a collaborator of the Center for a Free Cuba.

In both cases, that of Pollán and that of Díaz Larrastegui, whose homes were headquarters in Havana of important human rights organizations, their deaths meant the closure of the headquarters and a severe blow to the civic movement.

The San Isidro Movement in a May 10, 2011 press release states the facts that they have access to, their continued demand to have access to Luis Manuel, and the repression visited on others:

Regarding Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, the San Isidro Movement declares with total transparency that it has very little information about his physical and psychological state of health. The brief information that we have and of which we can guarantee accuracy comes from his blood relatives. From them we know that Luis Manuel is stable, he drinks liquids, but mainly, he maintains his demands. The hospital is militarized. Outside the immediate family, any type of contact or communication has been prevented. We have testimonials that anyone who tries to visit him is subject to police arrest and questioning.

The collective San Isidro Movement demands access to Luis Manuel. The act of hospitalization does not contravene the use of a cell phone by any patient, as well as the admission of visits from second-degree friends and relatives. Luis Manuel is hospitalized against his will due to the raid and vandalism of his home and the theft and destruction of his artwork, his own creations as a visual artist.

The videos that have been shown violate any data protection protocol of a hospitalized patient and a citizen, and truly only reflect the authentic and human actions of a person who has received the largest doses of vile attacks from a totalitarian state.

However, these attacks are no longer limited to Luis Manuel. The terrible and tortuous procedures that Alcántara has suffered are practiced as a standardized model against the citizenry and within this against activism and dissent. Forced isolation in their homes, with military presence on the streets right outside their homes; the cutting off of telephone and internet services to increase the amount of seclusion; arrests and forced disappearances; harassment and threats to the families of activists; the battery and ill treatment received during arrests and in prisons; indictments of public disorder, instigation to commit a crime and resistance; such as the cases of Carolina Barrero, Manuel de La Cruz, Katherine Bisquet, Camila Lobón, and Tania Bruguera, who are all under warrantless house arrest.

Luz Escobar, writing in 14ymedio provides an update on Luis Robles Elizástegui arrested December 4, 2021 “on San Rafael Boulevard for holding a sign that read “Freedom. No more repression. # Free-Denis [Solís]”, she interviewed his brother Landy Fernández Elizástegui who is trying to obtain his brother’s freedom who now faces a six year prison term for nonviolently holding up a sign.  Here is an excerpt from the interview.

Luz Escobar. What does your brother say about his stay in jail?

Landy Fernández. Due to the COVID issue, I have not been able to see him, not even when he was in Villa Marista (the central prison of State Security in Cuba). As soon as he arrived at the Combinado del Este prison, in the first days of January, we were able to speak on the phone and he began to tell me about the experiences he was having there, of the mistreatment, the threats, the repression.

One day they beat him, stripped him, got him wet and moved him every two hours from one cell to another. At the time of that call, I was at the Prison Directorate’s office at 15th and K Streets with my mother, who came from Guantánamo to see if she could do something which I, as his brother, could not. We were meeting with a ‘population service’ employee and when Luis confirmed these tortures, I had the opportunity to speak with that woman and put my brother’s call through with his complaint so that she could hear it directly in his own voice.

She told me that they were going to order an investigation to find out if it was true, but that never went anywhere. I went to the Attorney General’s Office, they told me to write a letter making the complaint and that they would give me an answer in 60 days, but that date has already passed and I have not received a response yet.

The last time they put him in the punishment cell was when Humberto López said on the news that they had called a demonstration for March 12th in the Plaza de la Revolución. From there Luis came out with all his skin in shreds due to an allergic reaction. Liquid was oozing from the entire surface of his skin.

The full interview is reproduced below.

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The regime hopes that international events will lead the international community to forget about the plight of these activists, and that is dangerous. The San Isidro Movement is circulating a petition demanding the freedom of Luis Manuel Otero.

14ymedio, May 11, 2021

Cuban Authorities Still Haven’t Explained Why Alcantara Can’t Leave the Hospital

Otero Alcántara was transferred to the Calixto García Hospital on the 2nd, allegedly good condition, but nine days later he is still there. (Screen capture)

Otero Alcántara was transferred to the Calixto García Hospital on the 2nd, allegedly good condition, but nine days later he is still there. (Screen capture)

14ymedio, Havana, 11 May 2021 — The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is still hospitalized despite the fact that he was admitted to the Calixto García in Havana nine days ago and the authorities released clinical data indicating that his health was more than good.

The Provincial Directorate of Health of Havana released a statement on Tuesday in which it assures that the opponent “has voluntarily ingested liquid and solid food, which has provided him with the necessary calories.” Also, and according to his request, he was treated in dermatology, although they do not specify the purpose of the consultation.

In the note, the agency adds that Otero Alcántara is asymptomatic and walks accompanied by the medical team through the common areas of the hospital. He also maintains that the activist of the San Isidro Movement” has given his agreement to the health personnel who treat him so that they can share information on his clinical evolution and at all times he has been grateful for the care received.”

In the statement, it is emphasized that the artist entered the hospital on May 2 with a diagnosis of “referred voluntary starvation,”,which contrasts with the information provided the day after, when it was said that there were no “signs of malnutrition” and that his “clinical and biochemical parameters” were normal.

Around that date, the pro-government media published multiple opinion columns in which they even attributed the good data of an alleged analysis to a high consumption of meat. In its intense campaign of discrediting, Cuban Television had also said in the previous hunger and thirst strike that the opponent carried out in November that there was evidence that he had bought large quantities of food.

The Havana Health authorities take advantage of the case to praise the Calixto García hospital, which has been widely criticized recently for the poor condition of its facilities, and refers to it as an “institution of high level of specialization and tradition in services” which “guaranteed the recovery of his health, complying with the hospital care protocols established for these cases, the principles of Cuban medical ethics, and taking into account the guidelines contained in the Declaration of Malta.”

This Tuesday is a week since the opponent was exhibited by the authorities in a video in which he was heard saying: “The medical staff has been spectacular, beyond that I will continue to demand my rights as an artist, but we cannot To say that the treatment has been bad, you have to know how to differentiate between the profession of doctor and other occupations such as State Security.”

The event was interpreted in a different way, because while some understood that he was giving up his combative attitude by lending himself to make those statements, others affirmed that he had been threatened, coerced or even over-medicated for the recording.

Days later, last Friday, Otero Alcántara appeared in the area outside a pavilion and made a subtle gesture with his hand, the “L” that opponents use to demand freedom.

On the other hand, the San Isidro Movement assured this Monday that they know, from the only relatives who are allowed visits, that Otero Alcántara ingests liquids but “maintains his demands.” The artist is also not allowed to use his cell phone or make calls from the facility’s phones. “Outside the immediate family, any type of contact or communication has been prevented, and we have testimonial information that any person who tries to visit him is subject to police arrest and questioning,” the opposition group denounced.

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https://translatingcuba.com/cuban-authorities-still-havent-explained-why-alcantara-cant-leave-the-hospital/

14ymedio, May 7, 2021

“I Am Not Afraid, I Will Not Stop Asking for My Brother’s Freedom”

Landy Fernández Elizástegui, brother of Luis Robles Elizástegui who has been jailed for holding a sign calling for the release of rapper Denis Solís. (14ymedio)

Landy Fernández Elizástegui, brother of Luis Robles Elizástegui who has been jailed for holding a sign calling for the release of rapper Denis Solís. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 7 May 2021 — While Luis Robles Elizástegui was being arrested last December 4th on San Rafael Boulevard for holding a sign that read “Freedom. No more repression. # Free-Denis [Solís]”, his brother Landy spent a working day like any other in the private workshop where he was employed.

Since that day, Landy Fernández Elizástegui’s life has taken a 180 degree turn and he has had no rest in seeking legal help for Luis.

The young man, 26, tells 14ymedio that 48 hours before the protest in San Rafael, on December 2nd, he went to visit his brother for his birthday. Luis, who “has always thought differently about the regime,” says his brother, did not talk to him about the idea of going out to demonstrate despite the fact that, he says, they have “very good communication”. He defends his decision, in any case. “Luis simply got tired, said enough and wanted to protest peacefully. For me, those seem to be his reasons”.

Landy Fernández was seen by the investigator who was handling his brother’s case several days after his arrest in Villa Marista, the State Security operations center in the Cuban capital.

The last time they put him in the punishment cell was when Humberto López said on the news that they had called a demonstration to be held at the Plaza de la Revolución for March 12th. Out of that demonstration, Luis came out with all his skin in shreds

The official explained that Robles was fined 1,000 pesos, but that even he did not understand why, he insists. From that moment, Fernández tried to get the file number and the case of the judicial process, which he managed to obtain a week later.

When reviewing the documents, he realized that his brother was accused of “other acts against State Security”, although this changed later.

During that time, he also filed a habeas corpus petition that was denied, and after receiving many rejections from lawyers to take up the case, he was able to get one, who asked him not to make his name public.

Luz Escobar. What does your brother say about his stay in jail?

Landy Fernández. Due to the COVID issue, I have not been able to see him, not even when he was in Villa Marista (the central prison of State Security in Cuba). As soon as he arrived at the Combinado del Este prison, in the first days of January, we were able to speak on the phone and he began to tell me about the experiences he was having there, of the mistreatment, the threats, the repression.

One day they beat him, stripped him, got him wet and moved him every two hours from one cell to another. At the time of that call, I was at the Prison Directorate’s office at 15th and K Streets with my mother, who came from Guantánamo to see if she could do something which I, as his brother, could not. We were meeting with a ‘population service’ employee and when Luis confirmed these tortures, I had the opportunity to speak with that woman and put my brother’s call through with his complaint so that she could hear it directly in his own voice.

She told me that they were going to order an investigation to find out if it was true, but that never went anywhere. I went to the Attorney General’s Office, they told me to write a letter making the complaint and that they would give me an answer in 60 days, but that date has already passed and I have not received a response yet.

The last time they put him in the punishment cell was when Humberto López said on the news that they had called a demonstration for March 12th in the Plaza de la Revolución. From there Luis came out with all his skin in shreds due to an allergic reaction. Liquid was oozing from the entire surface of his skin.

Everything become complicated at work too, they began to visit the owner of the workshop, my other brother, and we thought that the best thing to do was for me to leave and stop working

Luz Escobar. How has all this impacted your life?

Landy Fernández. On the day of the supposed demonstration, March 12th, my house was also under surveillance by State Security officers, who did not allow me to go anywhere. My internet service also gets cut off. Recently two agents came to ask me to stop my publications on the networks because the same thing that happened to my brother could happen to me, a direct threat. But I do not care because I am not afraid, I will not stop asking for freedom for my brother. My father called me from Guantánamo to try to stop me, but I told him that these are different times, that in his time he did what seemed convenient and that I am now going to do what I should.

Everything became complicated at work too, they began to visit the owner of the workshop, my other brother, and we thought that the best thing to do was for me to leave and stop working until everything about Luis was resolved.

Luz Escobar. What has the lawyer explained to you about where the case of your brother stands?

Landy Fernández. Luis’s investigative file has already closed, that is where the prosecution accuses him of “enemy propaganda” and “resistance” and asks for a six-year sentence. The lawyer advised me to stop the process now until he can meet with my brother again and prepare a proper defense, including the testimony of everyone about the mistreatment that he has received in prison. I agreed, because otherwise he would go straight out of the Combinado prison to a court trial without us knowing well what they are accusing him of. He has partial knowledge, thanks to my conversations with some of his colleagues, but, since April, I have not been able to speak with him again and he does not know all the details.

He has told me that he has seen a lot of abuse by the officers against the prisoners, that they are handcuffed and beaten until they cry. These are 40- and 50-year-olds crying like little children from the blows they are given

 Luz Escobar. How has the call system in prison been up to now?

Landy Fernández. I imagine that they interrupt his calls to punish him. He has told me that he has seen a lot of abuse by the officers against the prisoners, that they are handcuffed and beaten until they cry. These are 40- and 50-year-olds crying like little children from the blows they are given. He also tells me that, in the beginning, the other prisoners took things from him as if to provoke him, but he told me that he had no interest in responding to those provocations, that he wanted to be calm. After he called me and asked me to make public that State Security wanted to recruit him in exchange for parole, I lost all communication with him.

Fine of 1,000 pesos imposed on Luis Robles Elizástegui. (14ymedio)

Fine of 1,000 pesos imposed on Luis Robles Elizástegui. (14ymedio)

Another prisoner has called me to tell me that Luis is fine and wants to know how we are, how his son is, how his mother is, but others have also called me and told me that they have not seen my brother for days or in the yard. Since I don’t know any of them, I don’t know if they are calling me from a street corner or if they are lying.

I told the Directorate of Prisons that I needed to regain communication with my brother and they told me that Luis had done something and his calls had been suspended as punishment. They did not tell me what he did wrong but I think it was because of that call: I published the audio where he says that State Security wanted to recruit him, that he is not willing to negotiate his principles in exchange for anything, and that he will be imprisoned for whatever time is necessary.

The lawyer has done a very good job so far, he instills faith in me, especially in the way he talks to me. He tells me that he is going to try to use all the legal tools in favor of Luis and I’d like to believe him because my brother has not committed any crime. Peacefully holding a poster in public is not a crime anywhere in the world.

Translated by Norma Whiting

San Isidro Movement, May 10, 2021

Press Release, San Isidro Movement

Havana, May 10, 2021

Given the recent events surrounding the general coordinator of the San Isidro Movement, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara; the multiple arrests and accusations of activists, journalists, artists and whoever raises their voice in the pursuit of demanding rights and freedoms; as well as the growing ruthless campaign of dis-accreditation carried out by the state media on a massive broadcasting scale to the Cuban people, this has compelled us to remind all of our position as well as clarify our objectives.

The San Isidro Movement defines itself as an institution that defends Human Rights and individual freedoms. It is the intention of its founding members that the entity (MSI) is an organization founded according to international rules and standards.

For this “creative work” the Movement has established a vast network of supporters, collaborators, individuals, as well as national and international institutions.

Each of the formal partners of MSI has been welcomed with the understanding that their work models always favor peaceful means and civility as instruments of resistance in civil activism and the Right to Life as a fundamental principle.

No institution or individual outside the members of the MSI gives any order or exerts any type of mechanism of pressure to impose an agenda that does not correspond to us or that has not been designed by any of the integrative members.

The San Isidro Movement, according to its statutes and like any other organization in the world, welcomes the collaboration of other organizations for advice and training of our members, for representation, or for insertion and participation in cooperative international programs.

All of this is legal and legitimate in almost any corner of the world, except where a totalitarian or dictatorial system prevails.

In the time that has elapsed since the founding of the organization, MSI has worked (and works) in collaboration with:

Center for the Opening and development of Latin America (CADAL)

National Democratic Institute (NDI)

Prisoners Defenders

Civil Rights Defenders

Front Line Defenders

Civicus

CUBALEX

In addition, MSI maintains collaboration and understanding with multiple independent organizations of Cuban civil society, based within the island or in the diaspora. Our solidarity and our connection is extended to all those who civically and peacefully confront the despotic Cuban totalitarianism.

We are honored by the wide network of solidarity and cooperation of which we are part today. No spurious and vile newscast will shame us or make us uneasy about our work. We claim and assume our right to deal with any institution that shares our interests and desires.

Regarding Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, the San Isidro Movement declares with total transparency that it has very little information about his physical and psychological state of health. The brief information that we have and of which we can guarantee accuracy comes from his blood relatives. From them we know that Luis Manuel is stable, he drinks liquids, but mainly, he maintains his demands. The hospital is militarized. Outside the immediate family, any type of contact or communication has been prevented. We have testimonials that anyone who tries to visit him is subject to police arrest and questioning.

The collective San Isidro Movement demands access to Luis Manuel. The act of hospitalization does not contravene the use of a cell phone by any patient, as well as the admission of visits from second-degree friends and relatives. Luis Manuel is hospitalized against his will due to the raid and vandalism of his home and the theft and destruction of his artwork, his own creations as a visual artist.

The videos that have been shown violate any data protection protocol of a hospitalized patient and a citizen, and truly only reflect the authentic and human actions of a person who has received the largest doses of vile attacks from a totalitarian state.

However, these attacks are no longer limited to Luis Manuel. The terrible and tortuous procedures that Alcántara has suffered are practiced as a standardized model against the citizenry and within this against activism and dissent. Forced isolation in their homes, with military presence on the streets right outside their homes; the cutting off of telephone and internet services to increase the amount of seclusion; arrests and forced disappearances; harassment and threats to the families of activists; the battery and ill treatment received during arrests and in prisons; indictments of public disorder, instigation to commit a crime and resistance; such as the cases of Carolina Barrero, Manuel de La Cruz, Katherine Bisquet, Camila Lobón, and Tania Bruguera, who are all under warrantless house arrest.

Criminal prosecutions, character assassinations in the state media with hate speech on a television program that should belong to everyone, and finally, hunger and the infinite need to which an entire people has been condemned are the most visible elements of the state’s aggression against the orphaned citizenry. Today the greatest resource that the Cuban state provides to its citizens is Repression.

This was demonstrated on April 30, in Old Havana, when a group of various friends tried to approach the house on Damas street, the MSI headquarters, and were brutally repressed, some of whom remain in jail (Thais Mailén Franco, Mary Karla Gonzáles, Yuisan Cancio Vera and Esteban Rodríguez, the last having completely disappeared. His family knows nothing about his conditions or whereabouts.) The repressed detainees were many more. We also recall that Luis Robles and Denis Solís are serving prison sentences without having committed crime (that is internationally recognized).

Political prisoners are multiplying. Other national organizations such as UNPACU, 27N, and Ladies in White, all are subjected to constant repression, violence, forced isolation, and countless physical and psychological torture. (we understand Torture as the detailed definitition given by the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatement or Punishment adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1984.)

The international community can and must take actions for the protection of a people who form part of the global humanity. Too much time has passed since it was known that a dictatorship prevails on the island of Cuba. To deny it or to cooperate with the dictatorship itself is to go against the interests of the Cuban people. It is time to define who is a friend of the Cuban people and who is a halberdier of a decadent and abusive military regime.

The result of this account of consciousness will give the Cuban people, its active civil society, and future democratic politicians in the nation, a very clear map of the friends of freedom and prosperity of the Cubans and those who are refractory to it.

We will have our memory, just as we have our honor today.

Right to Have Rights

We’re Connected

We are Ready

Homeland and Life

https://www.facebook.com/106310424116618/posts/497375348343455/