Power takes strange forms, and on the face of it, imprisonment and exile should render an individual powerless. For Cuban artists like Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Hamlet Lavastida, their repression at the hands of the state has catalysed collective action. When in 2018 the authorities in Havana announced a new law designed to silence artists, Decree 349, Alcántara became the figurehead of the San Isidro Movement, named after a neighbourhood of the city. For this he has been repeatedly persecuted, and having been on hunger strike in prison without trial, this year he was sentenced to five years for the crime of ‘insulting national symbols’. The prosecution cited a series of Alcántara’s artworks featuring the county’s flag. While Alcántara is one of more than 700 people currently imprisoned over the four-year-old protest, Lavastida, a member of the 27N collective, is one of the many more now living outside the country, winning an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award.
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San Isidro Movement / 27N
Artist Collective - Artists and intellectuals protest the crackdown on artistic freedom in Cuba
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