Saturday, August 20, 2022

Cuban artist and prisoner of conscience Maykel Castillo Pérez a.k.a. Osorbo turns 39 in prison for his music.

Maykel Castillo Pérez a.k.a. Osorbo

Cuban artist and musician Maykel Castillo Pérez turned 39 years old today in a Cuban prison. He was born on August 20, 1983. 

Cuban prisoner of conscience Maykel Castillo Pérez “Osorbo” was sentenced to nine years in prison by the Castro regime on June 24, 2022. He was already arbitrarily detained for over a year at the time. 

Amnesty International offered the following background information on this prisoner of conscience on August 19, 2021.  

"Maykel Castillo Pérez,known by his stage name Maykel Osorbo, is a Cuban musician and human rights activist. He is one of the authors of “Patria y Vida”, a song critical of the Cuban government that has been adopted as a protest anthem. On 4 April 2021, Maykel was walking in Havana when police officers questioned him and attempted to arrest him but desisted in the face of complaints from other passersby who considered the action unjust."

Eight days later on April 12, 2021 Maykel was the victim of a physical assault engineered by the secret police. Maykel was assaulted in Havana by strangers as state security agents filmed the assault. Maykel Castillo denounced the incident on a live broadcast through Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara's social media where Maykel stated, "I'm a tough black," he said. "Not even a thousand beatings are going to make me cross my arms and close my mouth," he warned. He underscored the danger facing him, and the possible escalation of violence by the dictatorship, and his commitment to nonviolence. “If you break a bone, it stays broken. If I die for that, the fault will be yours, because you are a murderer, " he said, addressing the government. 

"On 18 May [2021], security agents arrived at his home and arrested him. He is being held at the Pinar del Río Provincial Prison under charges of 'assault', 'resistance', 'evasion of prisoners and detainees' and 'public disorder.'"

Maykel Castillo in the midst of a protest in San Isidro on April 4, 2021

This is not his first time he was jailed for a matter of conscience. On September 21, 2018 Cuban rapper Maykel Castillo Pérez, "El Osorbo" protested against Decree 349/2018 during a show in Cuba. Three days after the concert, he was detained by the Cuban secret police, and kept jailed. 

On March 20, 2019 Maykel was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, and learned of his sentence on April 22, 2019. He was released on October 23, 2019. Decree 349 is a law that further restricts artistic freedoms in Cuba.

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