CubaBrief: Cuban protest song to be performed at Latin Grammys but one singer jailed. Int’l organization backs isolating Castro regime. Archipelago leader speaks out.

Latin Grammys are tonight and the Cuban protest song Patria y Vida has been nominated, and will be performed, although Maykel Castillo will be absent – due to his unjust imprisonment.

Ian Vásquez published “Cuba’s Freedom Song” in the blog CATO at Liberty published on November 17, 2021 with a video interview with Eliecer Márquez Duany better known as ‘El Funky,’ who is one of the artists who sing on the song. El Funky correctly highlights the plight of Maykel Castillo in the interview. Pen International launched its Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign on November 15th with Maykel Castillo (Osorbo) featured, and Amnesty International has included him in an urgent action. This is an urgent matter because reports have emerged that Maykel’s health has deteriorated greatly.

From L to R: El Funky (exiled), Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara (jailed), Maykel Castillo (jailed and sick)

There are important developments on the international front. On November 12, 2021 the Christian Democrat Organization of America (ODCA initials in Spanish for Organización Demócrata Cristiana de América) based in Santiago, Chile announced its support for “the proposals of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL initials in Spanish for Movimiento Cristiano Liberacion) aimed at isolating the totalitarian regime and taking more energetic action from the international community to condemn and punish human rights violations in Cuba.” The ODCA is a regional movement made up of 36 political parties from 25 countries that share Christian, humanist and centrist principles.

MCL spokesman Regis Iglesias addresses the ODCA

MCL was founded in Havana, Cuba on September 8, 1988 to work for the democratization of Cuba, is best known for the Varela Project, a petition signed by tens of thousands of Cubans that forced the Castro dictatorship to change its Constitution, to prevent it from being amended to respect international human rights norms in 2002, and the extrajudicial killings of its founding leader, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and youth leader Harold Cepero Escalante on July 22, 2012. The Christian Liberation Movement is a long time member of the ODCA, and participated online in the meeting on November 12th.

With regards to the crackdown on November 15, 2021 MCL in a statement published on November 16th stated that “Cuba lived through a day of terror today. Official terror, terror from those in power, terror directed at citizens, the accredited press, the diplomatic corps, the Church and anyone who seeks to recognize and respect the diversity of ideas and the right to express them peacefully.”

MCL also warned about mistaking the dictatorship with the people of Cuba. “The Christian Liberation Movement reminds the international community that if in its relationship with the Cuban people, it continues to view the tyranny as the reference, this relationship will continue to be hijacked by the group in power and will never be a stimulus to democratization and respect for the legitimate right to freedom of Cubans, but quite the opposite.” The movement also underscored the importance of “applying economic, political and diplomatic measures to isolate the Cuban regime, and encouraging the sending of humanitarian aid directly to the people in accordance with the 11 measures proposed by MCL in the campaign “For Solidarity with Freedom of Cubans Campaign” until all political prisoners are released and free elections are held, in a environment of respect for the plurality of political opinions.” The eleven measures are:

– The Cuban regime should be excluded from participating in any international forum, Summit and event.

– Cuba should be investigated and condemned for its human rights violations by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

– All economic and military cooperation agreements with the Cuban dictatorship, like the EU-Cuba cooperation agreement, should be suspended.

– Lines of credit should not be granted to the Cuban regime.

– Foreign investments and tourism to Cuba should be discouraged.

– All products exported from Cuba, either directly by the regime or through foreign companies associated with Cuban tyranny, should be boycotted.

– An international arms and repression equipment embargo on Cuba should be imposed

– Cuba should be banned from all international sporting, cultural and academic events.

– Visas to military junta officials and relatives, and to members of the Cuban Communist Party and all organizations and institutions who take part in repressive actions or support the repression, should not be granted or should be revoked.

– Channels to send humanitarian aid should be facilitated as part of this campaign to isolate the regime and in solidarity with the Cuban people.

– An international commission to support democracy in Cuba should be created. It should promote that these and other measures are executed, and should watch over its implementation.

On August 17, 2021 the Center for a Free Cuba hosted a conversation in Spanish with Regis Iglesias and Antonio Diaz Sanchez, of the Christian Liberation Movement on the eleven measures they proposed to provide effective solidarity with Cubans on the island while isolating the dictatorship. It is available below.

Iglesias was also among the signers of the “Appeal to World Civic, Religious and Political Leaders to Help Peaceful Cuban Dissidents and Oppose Cuban Government Violence Targeting Them,” released on November 14th in which signatories listed concrete steps to be taken by the international community including establishing an “arms embargo” on Cuba, and suspending economic and military cooperation agreements with the Castro dictatorship. These concrete actions were also found in MCL’s eleven measures.

Signers recognize that there is a blockade on Cuba, but not by the United States that is one of the main sources of food for the Cuban people, but the Castro regime that restricts Cubans from fishing, farming, and a long list of activities that would return the island to self sufficiency on the food front, rather than depending on importing between 70 – 80% of its food.

The Archipelago Movement, a left-center-left movement, that organized the November 15th event, has now called for the protests to continue until November 27, 2021, have a number of members detained or missing, and Yunior Garcia, who appeared in Spain with his wife on November 17th gave his first interview to a fellow Cuban artist residing there for some time.

This morning he gave a press conference that was covered by Reuters.

“Cuban dissident Yunior Garcia said on Thursday in Madrid the government on the Caribbean island had allowed him to leave for him not to become a symbol of protests and that authorities had cut off all his communications before his departure. ‘The regime needed to silence me, convert me into a non-person,’ he told a news conference. ‘All I have is my voice, I couldn’t stay silent. That’s why I came to Spain,’ he said, adding that he wished to return to Cuba at some point. Garcia said the Cuban government was acting like “an abusive husband” to its people, calling it “a dictatorship and brutal tyranny.”

The full press conference reported by EL PAÍS (in Spanish) below.

Reuters, November 18, 2021

Cuban dissident says government cut off his communications to silence him

By Syndicated Content

MADRID (Reuters) – Cuban dissident Yunior Garcia said on Thursday in Madrid the government on the Caribbean island had allowed him to leave for him not to become a symbol of protests and that authorities had cut off all his communications before his departure.

“The regime needed to silence me, convert me into a non-person,” he told a news conference. “All I have is my voice, I couldn’t stay silent. That’s why I came to Spain,” he said, adding that he wished to return to Cuba at some point.

Garcia said the Cuban government was acting like “an abusive husband” to its people, calling it “a dictatorship and brutal tyranny.”

(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip)

CATO at Liberty, November 17, 2021

Cuba’s Freedom Song

By Ian Vásquez

When mass protests erupted across Cuba last July 11, “Patria y Vida”—a hip‐hop song released earlier this year by Cuban musicians—had become an anthem of freedom on the island and a protest slogan against the dictatorship. The title, “Fatherland and Life” is a play on words on the regime’s “Fatherland or Death,” and a sort of reclaiming of the national slogan.

“Patria y Vida” is a beautiful cry for freedom. Its lyrics express the repulsion that Cubans feel of having to live under totalitarianism and, along with the music, capture this widespread sentiment to the extent that the song helped inspire the mass uprising. NPR has a nice explanation of the lyrics and their meaning here. (Elsewhere I wrote about the social change in Cuba leading up to the protests.)

“Patria y Vida” has been nominated for best song of the year and best urban song for this year’s Latin Grammys, which will be held on November 18. On November 3, one of the coauthors and performers of the song, the rapper known as “El Funky,” visited Cato after having managed to leave Cuba days earlier. We spoke with him about the song, about the current situation in Cuba, and about those imprisoned by the regime, including Maykel Castillo, one of the other author‐performers. See a video on the conversation below.

One of the goals of El Funky, who raps about the “evil revolution” in the song, is to make the world see Cuban reality for what it is. “Patria y Vida” deserves to get a win at the Grammys on its own merits; but it also deserves it for the tremendous good it will do for Cuba, Latin America, and beyond.

Reuters, November 17, 2021

Missing Cuban Protest Leader Yunior Garcia Lands in Spain

By Belén Carreño, Reuters

Yunior Garcia gestures as he attends a press conference after he and his wife landed in Madrid, Spain, November 18. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) -Cuban protest leader Yunior Garcia and his wife landed at Madrid’s Barajas airport on Wednesday afternoon, the dissident said on social media, putting an end to uncertainty over his whereabouts.

The young playwright took a commercial flight to Spain after the communist-run Cuban government blocked a major protest he helped plan for Monday. He had fallen silent on social media since then, sparking concerns among activists over his safety.

According to sources familiar with his travels, Spain granted Garcia a 90-day visa for “reasons of force majeure or necessity.” Government sources had previously said that he entered on a tourist visa.

Garcia, in his first interview since his departure, told Cuban film director Ian Padron that since Sunday, he had no access in Cuba to phone or internet. This cut him off from allies on the island and was one factor in his decision to leave Cuba, he said.

“The decision to leave the country was entirely mine, and it was taken that day,” he told Padron on YouTube. He said he had not sought asylum because he wanted to return to his home country.

“My idea is to return to Cuba…to accomplish my mission,” he said.

Cuba’s government had said Garcia was working covertly with the United States to overthrow the state.

Garcia and the U.S. government have denied that charge.

State security and Cuban government supporters on Sunday surrounded Garcia’s Havana home, preventing him from marching alone, as he had planned to build support for peaceful demonstrations.

Garcia became a central figure in Cuba’s dissident movement following protests in July that drew thousands onto the streets to demonstrate against shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Garcia said he would speak again about his experience Thursday.

(Reporting by Belén Carreño in Madrid, Nelson Acosta and Marc Frank in Havana, writing by Nathan Allen and Dave Sherwood, editing by Andrei Khalip, Gareth Jones and Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

WLRN 91.3 FM, November 16, 2021

‘Patria y Vida,’ up for a Latin Grammy, leads a protest music boom in Latin America

WLRN 91.3 FM | By Elisa Baena, Tim Padgett

This is the first of two reports on a potent new synergy between protests and protest music in Latin America — from Cuba to Colombia, from San Juan to Santiago.

It’s been half a century since the golden age of protest music in the Americas — songs like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” that took on the Vietnam War; Mercedes Sosa’s “Como la Cigarra,” a defiant hymn aimed at Argentina’s military dictatorship; or Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up,” an indictment of Caribbean poverty.

The music helped galvanize protests; the protests seemed to bring out the best in the music. And that same phenomenon is playing out again across Latin America and the Caribbean.

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If you needed any reminder, consider the protest hit “Patria y Vida,” written and performed by several Cuban singers, is up for Song of the Year (and Best Urban Song) at Thursday night’s Latin Grammy Awards.

Or that, in the same week, the Cuban regime is blocking a new round of anti-government protests that dissidents had planned on the island as a follow-up to the unprecedented unrest that took place there in July.

“Patria y Vida” helped fuel those protests — and the protests made “Patria y Vida” more famous internationally.

Or as jailed Cuban protester Daniela Rojo told us: “The song gave us our courage, and the protests made the song more popular.”

The success of “Patria y Vida” reflects a fresh and potent synergy between popular music and protest marches from Cuba to Colombia — where reggaeton star Feid’s music accompanied anti-government demonstrations this year — and from Santiago to San Juan, where singers recently helped bring down a Puerto Rico governor.


It wasn’t easy to make it as a rapper in communist Cuba in the 1990s, but that was the dream of Yotuel Romero and his buddies in a Cuban group called Amenaza (Threat).

So at age 19, Yotuel (as he’s known today) fled the island with them for Paris. In a few years the ensemble, which now called itself Orishas (after the Afro-Cuban Santeria spirits) released a hit album, “A Lo Cubano.”

It was a pioneering effort in a Latin American urban music movement that blended genres like salsa with hip-hop. The song “Represent” from that album samples music from the famous Cuban band La Sonora Matancera, which had made Celia Cruz a household name a generation earlier.

READ MORE: Do Cubans Use Social Media Better Than Their Regime Controls It? It Looks Like It

Over the past two decades, Orishas collected eight Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations. Those early songs may have felt more party than politics — but a few years ago, Yotuel, now in his 40s, returned to spend time in Cuba and saw how its economic and human rights misery had only gotten worse since he left.

It helped confirm for Yotuel that artists have a responsibility to make their voices heard on those matters, something he reflected on during a Billboard panel on music and social justice this past September.

“Music isn’t just Spotify and Youtube numbers,” he said. “Music should also move people’s consciences.”

In 2018, Cuban artists founded a pro-democracy movement called Movimiento San Isidro. Last year Yotuel watched from Miami as those Cuban activists protested the government’s restrictions on freedom of expression — which, to no one’s surprise, the regime cracked down on.

But San Isidro’s unusual, social media-fueled dynamism helped inspire Yotuel and half a dozen other Cuban recording artists to release “Patria y Vida” earlier this year. The title — meaning “Homeland and Life” — is a poke at the grim regime slogan “Patria o Muerte,” or “Homeland or Death.”

The song gave us our courage, and the protests made the song more popular. With that song we start to believe that in Cuba we can have a different future.

Daniela Rojo

Influenced by the hip hop tradition of authenticity and “keeping it real,” Yotuel was once again advancing a Latin American musical form: the urban protest anthem. “Patria y Vida” is a plaintive but hopeful Latin pop song that tells the Cuban regime: “ya se acabó.”

Your time is up.

The lyrics are biting. In one verse, Yotuel slams the regime for hyping the “paradise” of Cuban beach resorts — while Cuban “mothers cry for their children” who’ve had to flee the island.

“Patria y Vida” was released last February and its video quickly went viral. Yotuel became the star focus among the ensemble of singers for his movie-star looks and build. In the video, he’s shirtless with “Patria y Vida” painted across his chest.

But it was the song’s defiant muscle that moved Cubans most. They now had access to the internet, and by this past summer they were so familiar with “Patria y Vida” that they adopted it as a rallying cry for mass, anti-regime protest marches across the island on the historic date of July 11.

Yotuel was somewhat stunned but not completely surprised by the song’s effect.

“It generated an incredible impact,” he told the Billboard panel. “It helped move a society asleep under a dictatorship to take to the streets.”

Still, music experts point out that in order for this symbiosis between protest movements and protest anthems to work, the song can’t just be okay — it has to be hit-worthy.

Lilly Blanco, a Cuban-American singer-songwriter in Miami, says “Patria y Vida” struck such a strong chord largely because its chords were so well written.

“There’ve been plenty of songs making the same argument,” Blanco said.

“But I think in the case of “Patria y Vida” it’s — it’s real. What makes it so powerful is that it’s not just people singing along to an ordinary pop song. It’s quality and it’s organic — and it’s something that people have been feeling for a really long time.”

As more and more international media reported on the historic, spontaneous July protests, “Patria y Vida” experienced a surge in coverage, too. Yotuel was even invited with other Cuban-American leaders to meet with President Biden at the White House in late July.

“We hear your voices,” Biden said, “and we hear the cries of freedom coming from the island.”


Another reason Yotuel became the song’s spokesperson is that some of his collaborators inside Cuba — including the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara — were thrown in jail after the July 11 marches.

So were hundreds of protesters — like Daniela Rojo. During the 23 days she spent in jail after her July 11 arrest, Rojo, a 26-year-old single mother and artist living in Guanabacoa, Cuba, says she angered her cell guard by constantly singing “Patria y Vida.”

“He said that he could [get] me in trouble,” she told WLRN by phone last month. “But that song is our anthem. With that song we start to believe that in Cuba we can have a different future.”

Rojo is still facing a trial on public disorder charges; but that hasn’t silenced her. She’s now active with other dissidents in a new movement called Archipiélago that helped organize this week’s regime-thwarted demonstrations. She adds that the Latin Grammy nomination for “Patria y Vida” has only emboldened the group.

“I’m so proud of that,” she said.

“I feel we are not alone. People in Cuba [want] freedom, they [want food], and so there are too many people that [have] no fear right now.”

On Friday, Rojo was reportedly arrested again and over the weekend her whereabouts were unknown.

t’s that sort of frightening, stepped-up regime repression since July that has moved other Cuban artists to release their own liberation anthems in recent months — including “De Cuba Soy” (I’m From Cuba) by Yomil and “Nacimos Libres” (We Were Born Free) by Dianelys Alfonso Cartaya, known as La Diosa (The Goddess).

Among its lyrics: “One day you’ll have your freedom, but resist. Because we were born free.”


One major thing the songs have also done is build a more cohesive protest community between Cubans on the island and Cubans in exile — who’ve long been distrustful of each other.

“It’s an exchange that we’ve never experienced before,” Blanco said.

“The exile Cubans like my parents’ generation are finally recognizing that the people in Cuba, especially of Yotuel’s generation, are victims as well — they weren’t collaborators in the communist disaster. And the Cubans in Cuba now realize the exiles aren’t just five guys from my fathers’ generation trying to kill Fidel Castro.”

Take, for example, the Cuban reggaeton duo and “Patria y Vida” collaborators Gente de Zona, whose crossover hit “Bailando” has more than 3 billion views on YouTube.

On New Year’s Eve in 2019, Gente de Zona was banned by the City of Miami from performing at Bayfront Park — because at a performance in Havana a year earlier they’d asked the audience to applaud newly elected President Miguel Díaz-Canel, a younger and supposedly more reform-minded leader than the Castros. Díaz-Canel has since been excoriated inside and outside Cuba for his heavy-handed response to the July protests.

The group’s ask at that Havana concert made a lot of Cuban-Americans angry, including recording artists like Albita and Willy Chirino.

But when “Patria y Vida” was released, Chirino reposted the song’s video on his social media accounts and recorded his own Cuban protest song, “Que Se Vayan Ya” (Leave Already) months later with Cuban reggaeton singers.

And in July, Gente de Zona was even invited to perform at a City of Miami-sponsored concert and demonstration outside the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana.

Pen International, November 15-19, 2021

Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2021

15th to 19th November 2021

Every year on 15 November PEN launches its Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign, highlighting the cases of writers who are imprisoned or facing prosecution and calling for urgent international action to release and protect them. The five cases we present are emblematic of the type of threats and attacks writers and journalists around the world are often subjected to, for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

This year, on the 40th anniversary of the campaign, PEN is featuring the cases of Mohammed Al-Roken (UAE), Rahile Dawut (China – Xinjiang), Selahattin Demirtaş (Turkey), Maykel Osorbo (Cuba), and the collective case of 12 writers imprisoned since 2001 (Eritrea). Please take action with us on the following days:

  • Maykel Osorbo – Monday 15th November

  • Selahattin Demirtaş – Tuesday 16th November

  • Rahile Dawut – Wednesday 17th November

  • Collective case of 12 Eritrean writers – Thursday 18th November

  • Mohammed Al-Roken – Friday 19th November

How does the Day of the Imprisoned Writer work?

Established in 1981 by PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer is an opportunity for the PEN’s movement to take action on behalf of selected writers and ensure that they and their families feel supported and not forgotten.

PEN Centres and members worldwide advocate for these cases, with activities ranging from letter-writing and panel discussions, to press conferences and publishing the work of imprisoned writers. PEN’s supporters engage in activities such as raising awareness of their situation and taking action on social media, or in the form of donations. Writers send solidarity letters to their colleagues in prison or under threat.

Read this year’s solidarity letters in support of our imprisoned writers:

Read about Mohammed Al-Roken (UAE), Rahile Dawut (China – Xinjiang), Selahattin Demirtaş (Turkey), Maykel Osorbo (Cuba), and the collective case of 12 writers imprisoned since 2001 (Eritrea).

Watch our video on the 40th anniversary of the campaign and see how you can take action today.

Maykel Osorbo (Cuba)


Maykel Castillo Pérez, widely known by the name Maykel Osorbo, is a musician, rapper and author of independent music in Cuba. Osorbo is co-author, alongside other Cuban musicians, of “Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”), a song that since its release in February 2021 has served as a rallying cry of hope and an anthem during anti-government demonstrations across the island. The song was nominated for the Best Urban Song and Song of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards. Osorbo is also one of the founders of the Movimiento San Isidro (MSI), a group of Cuban artists and intellectuals founded in 2018 to protest state censorship of artistic, literary or journalistic works and defend freedom of expression in Cuba.

Osorbo was detained on 18 May 2021 while at home and was subjected to enforced disappearance for 14 days. News outlets later reported that he had been held in custody and transferred to 5 y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, on 31 May, accused of alleged crimes such as “resistance” and “contempt” in relation to his refusal to be arrested as he was trying to reach the headquarters of the MSI on 4 April 2021. His provisional detention does not comply with international legal requirements or the Cuban criminal code.

Osorbo has suffered no less than 121 acts of police harassment, including multiple arrests. On 24 September 2018, he was arrested after performing at a concert where he and other rappers publicly opposed Decree 349, a law that regulates all artistic expression in Cuba and silences those that speaks against the government. On 20 March 2019, he was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for allegedly assaulting a police officer. The rapper was released on 24 October 2019 after the defence demonstrated that his legal proceedings had been violated, and that there had been contradictory testimonies and insufficient evidence against him. He was again detained for three days in April 2020 for allegedly promoting “illegal images”, whilst streaming a Facebook Live video where he discussed local politics, COVID-19 in Cuba, and criticised the Cuban authorities.

On 11 February 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)  granted precautionary measures in favour of 20 members of the MSI, including Osorbo, after considering that, as human rights defenders, they are in a serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to their rights.  Osorbo has not had access to a fair trial and, according to the testimony of his relatives, he is receiving threats from the authorities inside the prison.

The case of Osorbo is emblematic of the Cuban government’s policy of repression of freedom of expression and persecution of critical voices. State-sponsored acts of violence and cases of arbitrary arrest have severely increased over the past year, hitting a peak in July with attacks on peaceful demonstrators. Since 11 July 2021, more than one thousand arrests and disappearances, including instances of people forced to go into hiding, have been recorded. At least 55 artists and writers are currently either under house arrest, imprisoned, or under investigation.

Take Action
The Cuban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maykel Osorbo, and end all ongoing criminal proceedings against him.

This is what you can do:


  • Write to the Cuban authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Maykel Osorbo, and for an end to all ongoing criminal proceedings against him

  • Spread the word about his case. Encourage others in your network to take action on his behalf

Here is a sample letter you can adapt. Please send letters, social media messages and emails to:

President Sr. Miguel Díaz-Canel:

Minister of Justice Oscar Silvera Martínez:

Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso Grau:

Minister of Foreign Affairs (Minrex) Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla:

Please send emails to the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in your own country.

Please inform PEN International of any action you take and of any responses you receive.

Social media

Raise awareness of Maykel Osorbo’s case on social media, using the sample messages below and the hashtags #MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel #ImprisonedWriter.


  • Cuban rapper Maykel Osorbo has been held in pre-trial detention since 18 May 2021, in relation to his music and activism against state censorship of artistic works. Today I join PEN International in calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Please take action with us, we are stronger together #MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel #ImprisonedWriter [insert link]

  • I support PEN International’s Day of the #ImprisonedWriter campaign, and stand in solidarity with Cuban musician and activist Maykel Osorbo. Will you join us and call for his release? Your support matters #MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel [insert link]


  • Cuban rapper #MaykelOsorbo has been held in detention since May in relation to his music and activism against state censorship of artistic works. With @pen_int, I say #FreeMaykel. Please take action with us, we are stronger together. RT #ImprisonedWriter [insert link]

  • I support @pen_int’s Day of the #ImprisonedWriter campaign, and stand in solidarity with Cuban musician and activist #MaykelOsorbo. Will you join us and call for his release? Your support matters #FreeMaykel. RT [insert link]

Please share this graphic on social media to highlight Maykel Osorbo’s case.


  • Please send solidarity messages to Maykel Osorbo using the following email address:

  • Please consider electing Maykel Osorbo as an honorary member of your Centre


We further encourage you to highlight the case of Maykel Osorbo and the state of freedom of expression in Cuba by:

Please keep us informed of your activities. Messages can be sent to Alicia Quiñones, Americas Programme Coordinator, at PEN International, email:

Amnesty International, November 12, 2021

Second UA: 088/21 Index: AMR 25/4988/2021 Cuba Date: November 12, 2021



Civil society groups have called for peaceful protests across Cuba on November 15, 2021, to demand respect for human rights and the release of hundreds of people still imprisoned following the largest public protests seen in decades held this past July 11, 2021. Cuban authorities have historically criminalized dissent, making protesters at risk of arbitrary detention and other human rights violations.


1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You
can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 88.21. It’s important to report because we share the
total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

Miguel Díaz Canel
Presidente de la República de Cuba
Hidalgo, esquina 6. Plaza de la Revolución
La Habana, CP 10400, Cuba
Twitter: @DíazCanelB
Facebook: @PresidenciadeCuba

Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera
Embassy of Cuba
2630 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Phone: 202 797 8515
Twitter: @EmbaCubaUS ; @Lianystr
Facebook: @EmbaCubaUS
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear President Díaz-Canel,

I write to remind you that the international community, including independent human rights monitors, will be observing the peaceful protests convened on November 15, 2021, and urge you to ensure protesters are permitted to peacefully exercise their freedom of expression and assembly, as required under international human rights law and standards.

Hundreds of people remain detained for peacefully protesting in Cuba, including during the mass demonstrations on July 11, 2021. The cases of prisoners of conscience Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, José Daniel Ferrer García, Esteban Rodríguez, and Maykel Castillo Pérez represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of people who are detained solely because of their political, religious, or other beliefs without having used or advocated violence. I call on all to be immediately and unconditionally released.

Activists, independent journalists, and human rights defenders are also frequently subjected to physical surveillance and face arrest by police and state security officials if they leave their houses, which as Amnesty International has previously documented can amount to arbitrary detention. We urge you to allow all those who chose to protest on November 15, 2021, to do so, as well as to allow independent journalists and human rights defenders to carry out their work.



Civil society groups in Cuba have called for peaceful protests on November 15, 2021, among other things, to demand the release of hundreds of people that were detained in the context of protests on July 11, 2021.

Hundreds of people in different cities across the country presented signed petitions requesting local authorities’ permission to convene peaceful, organized protests.

Cuba’s government-run newspaper, the Granma, described the planned marches as “illicit” and designed to “destabilize” the country.

Authorities have created a web of control over freedom of expression and assembly for decades in Cuba, which criminalizes peaceful protest and imprisons and ill-treats Cubans from all walks of life solely for expressing their opinions.

On July 11, hundreds of people who participated in a largely peaceful protest that took place in various cities in Cuba were detained and imprisoned by government authorities. The authorities responded by detaining and criminalizing to different degrees nearly all those found to be protesting.

Following the protests, Amnesty International called on six prisoners of conscience to be immediately and unconditionally released. The organization also documented arbitrary detentions, violations of due process and incommunicado detention, as well as unlawful surveillance, ill-treatment, and internet interruptions carried out by the authorities, scaling up a machinery of control used for decades to target alternative thinkers, but amped up to a scale not seen in almost 20 years.

As of November 10, 2021, hundreds of people remain in prison for peacefully expressing their views on the current human rights and economic situation in the country, according to Cubalex.

You can also write in your own language.

Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.

NAME AND PRONOUN: Peaceful demonstrators in Cuba (they, them)