Cuban anti-government activists face trial


Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo Perez, better known as “Osorbo,” are both members of the San Isidro movement, a group of artists and activists who have clashed with Cuban officials over government censorship.

Both men were featured in the music video for the opposition song “Patria y Vida,” which means “homeland and life” in Spanish, a scorching critique of the Cuban government.

Osorbo, who rapped in parts of the song, shared two Latin Grammys that “Patria y Vida” won in 2021.

The Cuban government has so far not commented on the trials, but previously said both men are United States agents paid to disrupt social order on the communist island.

According to activist Claudia Genlui, Osorbo’s two-day trial begins Monday and Otero Alcantara’s trial is also expected to begin this week.

In an audio message Genlui shared on social media allegedly from Otero Alcantara speaking from prison, the artist says Cuban officials have told him he will not face jail time if he chooses to go into exile.

“In the country I dream of,” Otero Alcantara said in the audio message, “the children of Cuba will not have to emigrate and they will be able to fulfill their goals on the island or return whenever they want.”

Osorbo was arrested in May 2021 after several clashes with the police and faces up to 10 years in prison, according to activists.

Otero Alcantara was arrested in July 2021 amid widespread protests across Cuba, with thousands taking to the streets to condemn the lack of food, medicine and civil liberties.

Cuba blamed the US government for causing the unrest.

Activists say Otero Alcantara faces up to seven years in prison.

On Monday, a large police presence outside the court, where activists said the men were on trial.

Cuban anti-government protesters sentenced to 30 years in prison

Police manned barricades on the street outside the court, preventing international journalists and diplomats from several European countries from reaching the building.

Trying the men could cause greater dissension among the Cubans.

After Otero Alcantara was detained after a hunger strike in 2020, hundreds of artists and students held a sit-in at the Ministry of Culture. Cuban officials quickly released Otero, claiming he was part of a US “soft coup” against the island.

Following the July 2021 protests, the Cuban government has tried hundreds of protesters, the most widespread prosecutions since the revolution began on the island.

“No one should be forced to choose between leaving their own country or facing criminal charges for which they should not be prosecuted or imprisoned in the first place,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a joint statement on the two activists.

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