Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is a self-taught Black Cuban artist. He loves to paint, dance, and wear bright pink suits. His home in San Isidro, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Havana, is a haven for the community – an open house for people to meet and connect.
Frustrated by Decree 349, a law seeking to silence critical artists, Luis Manuel became a leader of the San Isidro Movement: a diverse group of artists, journalists and activists defending the right to freedom of expression whose members have been intimidated, surveilled and detained.
On 2 May 2021, state security officials took Luis Manuel from his home, where he had been on hunger strike protesting against the confiscation of his artworks by the authorities. He was taken to a hospital and denied access to the outside world. Upon his release a month later, security officials continued to watch his every move.
On 11 July 2021, Luis Manuel posted a video online, saying he would be taking part in one of the largest demonstrations Cuba had seen in decades. Luis Manuel was arrested before the protest took place and taken to Guanajay maximum security prison, where he remains. In June 2022, he was sentenced to five years in prison, after a trial behind closed doors. In prison, Luis Manuel’s health is declining and he’s not getting proper medical care.
Tell Cuba to immediately free Luis Manuel.