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Artist Organizing Alternative Havana Biennial Released on Bail

Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was released from police custody on Thursday, November 10, after he paid a $1,000 bail fee, Cubanet reports. He was accused of illegally receiving construction materials, including bags of cement and sand, at his home in Old Havana. The date of his upcoming trial has yet to be determined.

Otero Alcántara was arrested by authorities on November 6, only a few hours before he was expected to hold a press conference on the Alternative Havana Biennial, which he began organizing after the thirteenth edition of the state-sponsored Bienal de la Habana was canceled due to a lack of funds as a result of Hurricane Irma. His partner Yanelys Nuñez Leyva had also been detained but was released after a few hours.

An online petition demanding that the artist be freed immediately was launched by Tania Bruguera on November 8. Signed by nearly five hundred people, the document alleged that the Cuban government has a history of shutting down cultural events that benefit locals while ensuring that venues popular with foreign tourists remain open.

After the artist was transferred to Vivac penitentiary center, located on the outskirts of Havana, he was subjected to a series of interrogations. He said that he was not allowed to make a phone call and was not provided with basic hygienic supplies such as toothpaste and soap.

In a statement published by the Havana Times, Yanelis Nuñz Leyva thanked everyone who participated in the campaign for Otero Alcántara’s release and stated that they were committed to planning the Alternative Biennial, which is slated to open in May 2018.