Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara.  Courtesy of Coco Fusco.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara. Courtesy of Coco Fusco.

August 13, 2019 at 5:30pm

CUBAN ARTIST LUIS MANUEL OTERO ALCÁNTARA ARRESTED OVER PERFORMANCE WITH CUBAN FLAG

Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a staunch activist for artistic freedom in the country, was arrested outside the Museum of Dissidence in Havana on Saturday, August 10 and released two days later. Alcántara has previously been harassed and detained by the police on numerous occasions for his involvement in the campaign against Decree 349, the legislation that restricts independent cultural activity on the island.

At the time of his arrest, the artist had draped a Cuban flag over his shoulders as part of a thirty-day performance, titled Drapeau, in protest of a new law passed earlier this year that regulates how national symbols can be displayed. While Cuban flags are permitted within residents’ homes and are allowed to be carried at public events, the legislation stipulates that one cannot combine the flag with other symbols, alter the flag in any way, display the flag as part of a commercial enterprise, or wear the flag.

After Alcántara was taken into custody, the San Isidro Movement, which the artist helped found to fight Decree 349, called for people to stand in solidarity with Alcántara and others who were arrested for protesting the law by taking photos and videos of themselves with the Cuban flag on their shoulders and posting them on the internet with the hashtag #LaBanderaEsDeTodos (The Flag Belongs to All). They are also requesting donations of Cuban flags to the Museum of Dissidence for activists to use in future demonstrations.