|MIAMI, Nov. 24, 2020|
A healthy adult can live a maximum of five – at most, seven – days without drinking water under normal conditions. The bodies of Maykel and Luis Manuel are deteriorating at an alarming rate, traces of blood in their urine warn of imminent kidney complications. Doctors warn that multiorgan failure could occur at any time.
Yesterday, at 3:00 PM, marked the 6th day of the hunger and thirst strike that Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo have maintained from their humble home, in the San Isidro neighborhood of Old Havana. They are demanding the release of 32-year-old Cuban rapper Denis Solís, who was arrested, tried and convicted within 48 hours for ordering a policeman to leave his home after he broke in without permission.
“We are running out of time” said activist and Morris Abram Award recipient Rosa María Payá.
“We have directly requested, and reiterate, our call to the Foreign Action Service of the European Union – which is in the process of dialogue with the Cuban dictatorship – to the ministers of the European Union and the Parliament; to the governments of the Americas; the Catholic Church and the Christian churches in Cuba; the International Red Cross, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet; and His Holiness Pope Francis; so that they intervene before the government in Cuba in favor of the immediate release of rapper Denis Solís and to save the lives of those on strike.”
She went on to say, “The imprisonment of Denis Solís is incompatible with the lives of Luis Manuel and Maykel. It is a basic humanitarian issue. The authorities in Cuba can release Denis Solís on house arrest and send him home now. They can avoid the death of young artists, while clarifying the legal situation of Denis, whose incarceration has been riddled by obvious violations of due process.”
The faces of the 14 people who, in solidarity with Denis, have been subject to a police blockade in the little house of San Isidro since November 16, resemble the faces of all Cubans. Among them are artists, academics, activists, journalists, self-employed workers, scientists — all children of a broken Cuba that they, as many, refuse to lose.” The siege, maintained by the political police, has prevented representatives of the Catholic church from offering them previously requested religious assistance. As a result, the regime is also in violation of the right of Cuban religious personnel to protect life.
The regime has also prohibited family and friends from giving supplies to those who are not on a hunger strike, and they have banned all the representatives of the diplomatic corps who have wished to examine the status of the strikers. However, at dawn on the fourth day of the strike, an aggressor whom the political police sent and allowed to pass through the barred area, approached the door of the San Isidro residence with a hammer and broke a bottle on the head of artist Luis Manuel Otero. He remains in the house and has yet to receive any medical attention.
The decision to initiate a hunger and thirst strike is the culmination of the extreme situation they are experiencing. These young victims are not alone in being subjected to some of the most brutal harassment and police violence; the citizenry of Cuba is also and is a society that has run out of vital options.
Cuba is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, caused by the regime, that has only been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been further exacerbated by the regime’s unwillingness to release humanitarian assistance sent by Cubans in exile though churches to the some of its most needy citizens.
“We call for Liberty and Life for Cuba.”