Cuba’s San Isidro leader makes Time’s 100 Most Influential list


Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara’s art, his unignorable fight for freedom of expression and his uncompromising stance against autocracy reveal the power of resistance, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei writes for TIME. Otero Alcántara is a symbol of and a leader within Cuba’s San Isidro movement, an influential group of artists and intellectuals who demanded greater freedoms as antigovernment protests spread across the country this summer. Although he has since been imprisoned, his life, behavior and expression as a whole are so powerful that they can resist the aesthetic and ethical degeneration of authoritarianism, he adds, explaining why he is one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021.

He may not even know it. He sits in a Cuban prison, jailed for the umpteenth time during the unprecedented massive, peaceful protests across the island on July 11, The Miami Herald adds. His long list of “crimes” during the past years of resistance:

Opposing Decree 349, which says the government has to approve art content. Making art critical of the Cuban regime, despite the law. Wrapping himself in the flag and declaring that it belongs to us all. Inspiring other artists, who along with him, founded the San Isidro movement and ended up becoming the voice of a people who couldn’t speak — until they shed their fear and did so loudly two months ago.

“Jailed for what?” the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs asked this week on Twitter.

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