Cuba has never been a place for freedom of expression or any sort of freedom for that matter. The island has continued to deteriorate under the communist government, with people protesting food shortages and power outages.
Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who was arrested on his way to a Havana demonstration in July 2021, faces up to seven years in prison for charges of contempt, public disorder, and defaming the national flag, according to a court filing obtained by Reuters. Rapper Maykel Castillo, who was detained in May 2021, is accused of assault and may be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The decision to arrest these two artist was met with backlash from the multiple human rights groups. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted:
“Seven months after peacefully standing up for human rights and fundamental freedoms, @LMOAlcantara awaits a trial that never seems to come.”— US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
And the State Department said in a statement to AFP:
“We are extremely concerned that Cuban authorities have unjustly made an example of Otero Alcantara.”— State Department
However, the Cuban government was quick to dismiss these concerns and even barred members of the media and diplomats from Germany, Sweden, and other European countries from entering.
Reportedly one of the artists, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara had been offered a deal to be exiled from Cuba in exchange for all charges being dropped against him. He refused and planned of continuing resistance against the current Cuban government. Earlier in June Alcantara issued a statement from prison, stating that he dreams of a Cuba where people will not be persecuted for their political beliefs and he hopes for a future where the people of Cuba do not have to emigrate to fulfil their dreams.
The Cuban government is facing pressure from multiple international forums. Protests continue to erupt all over the country, especially after the arrests.