Hospitalized Cuban dissident artist appears healthy in video

Havana (AFP) –


A Cuban dissident artist who has been hospitalized since the weekend in Havana after going on hunger strike, appeared in a video released Tuesday in apparently good health.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, 33, is the leader of the San Isidro protest movement (MSI) of artists and intellectuals pressing for free speech and other rights in the communist nation.

"The doctors were extremely professional and attentive, and super connected on a human level," Otero Alcantara is seen saying while sitting on a hospital bed in his pajamas.

He was hospitalized Sunday on the eighth day of his hunger strike, which he is conducting to protest against the seizure of several of his works when he was arrested last month during a demonstration.

The video was posted on the Facebook page of Ifran Martinez Galvez, who introduced himself as the doctor in charge of the care team at the General Calixto Garcia university hospital where Otero Alcantara was taken.

"Since his transfer to the hospital, I have received many messages accusing me of being an oppressor, a policeman... which is false," says text that accompanies the video, which shows both men relaxed and smiling.

"This is why today I asked my patient to film this video together, with the help of our nurse Dorita, to show the reality," the text said.

Members of the MSI collective, as well as international human rights organizations, had expressed concern about Otero Alcantara's health after having no news of his state since he was admitted to the hospital.

The US embassy in Cuba called on Havana authorities "to protect his well-being in this difficult moment," provoking the ire of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

On Monday, Diaz-Canel called the US comments "shameful," and said that Washington, through its multi-decade blockade against the island nation, "condemns more than 11 million Cubans to hunger and shortages."