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Cuban dissident artist leaves hospital

June 1, 2021

The Cuban activist and artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara has described his stay in hospital lasting almost a month. He has said he was isolated and watched over.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara entering hospital on May 2
Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara was taken to hospital on May 2Image: CUBAN TV/AFP

Artist and dissident protest movement leader Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara vowed to "continue the struggle" upon his release from the hospital on Monday.

The 33-year-old was held in the General Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana for almost a month after he began a voluntary hunger strike in protest against police seizure of his artwork.

"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.

Dissident artist describes his treatment

Talking to the Spanish news agency EFE after his release, Otero Alcantara said that the last 15 days of his hospitalization "were totally unjustified" considering his state of recovery.

He also described his stay, saying that "they had the light on 24 hours, and three state security agents watched over me to stop me from leaving the room."

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He said he had no connection to the outside world save for short meetings with close family.

The hospital for its part said that it had "respected the will of the patient, in terms of medical procedures, care, nutrition and duration of stay."

The Havana public health authority said that Otero Alcantara had expressed gratitude to the hospital workers during his stay. They also released video footage of him in good health in the first few days.

Otero Alcantara's activism

The artist is also the leader of the San Isidro protest movement (MSI) that is made up of artists and intellectuals pushing for free speech and further rights. The communist government of Cuba has accused the protesters of being funded by the US.

He went on hunger strike for eight days after police seized his work during a protest. Associates said at the time that he had been taken forcibly.

When Otero Alcantara left the hospital, he said that the state security forces had taken his phone, leaving him "literally a month without communication and with little access to my family."

He said in his video message that he would "recount everything that happened to me."

ab/msh (EFE, AFP)