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Cuban police detaining Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara on Thursday. Photo: Michel Matos.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara Arrested Ahead of Havana Biennial

Artist and activist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was arrested by the Cuban police on Thursday for staging a performance with two collaborators as part of an unofficial collateral event to the Thirteenth Havana Biennial, the state-run exhibition which opened today, Diario de Cuba reports. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.

The artists were detained outside of Alcántara’s house in the San Isidro neighborhood of Old Havana shortly after they began a performance that paid homage to activist Daniel Llorente, who hoisted an American flag during a May Day parade in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution in 2017. Llorente managed to shout “Freedom for Cuba” before he was tackled by state security and taken into custody. The activist spent more than a year in a psychiatric facility for the action. According to Cubanet, he was arrested again last week when he attempted to deliver a letter to the headquarters of UNICEF in Havana that declared his intention to organize a march against child abuse. Llorente’s son was released, but the activist was not and remains unaccounted for. 

Alcántara was also arrested on Thursday, April 4. The authorities released him several hours later but warned him not to take part in any cultural activities during the biennial. Days later, artist, Cuba denied artist, curator, and writer Coco Fusco entry into the country. “I am sure that this is due to my writings on Cuban art and cultural politics, and my steadfast support for the artists-led movement in Cuba against Decree 349,” Fusco said in a statement. The censorship law, which bans all independent artistic activity in the nation, went into effect in December.

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