Name: Maykel Osorbo
Occupation: Musician and Activist
#MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel #ImprisonedWriter
Maykel Castillo Pérez, widely known by the name Maykel Osorbo, is a musician, rapper and author of independent music in Cuba. Osorbo is co-author, alongside other Cuban musicians, of “Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”), a song that since its release in February 2021 has served as a rallying cry of hope and an anthem during anti-government demonstrations across the island. The song was nominated for the Best Urban Song and Song of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards. Osorbo is also one of the founders of the Movimiento San Isidro (MSI), a group of Cuban artists and intellectuals founded in 2018 to protest state censorship of artistic, literary or journalistic works and defend freedom of expression in Cuba.
Osorbo was detained on 18 May 2021 while at home and was subjected to enforced disappearance for 14 days. News outlets later reported that he had been held in custody and transferred to 5 y Medio prison, in Pinar del Río, on 31 May, accused of alleged crimes such as “resistance” and “contempt” in relation to his refusal to be arrested as he was trying to reach the headquarters of the MSI on 4 April 2021. His provisional detention does not comply with international legal requirements or the Cuban criminal code.
Osorbo has suffered no less than 121 acts of police harassment, including multiple arrests. On 24 September 2018, he was arrested after performing at a concert where he and other rappers publicly opposed Decree 349, a law that regulates all artistic expression in Cuba and silences those that speaks against the government. On 20 March 2019, he was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for allegedly assaulting a police officer. The rapper was released on 24 October 2019 after the defence demonstrated that his legal proceedings had been violated, and that there had been contradictory testimonies and insufficient evidence against him. He was again detained for three days in April 2020 for allegedly promoting “illegal images”, whilst streaming a Facebook Live video where he discussed local politics, COVID-19 in Cuba, and criticised the Cuban authorities.
On 11 February 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favour of 20 members of the MSI, including Osorbo, after considering that, as human rights defenders, they are in a serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to their rights. Osorbo has not had access to a fair trial and, according to the testimony of his relatives, he is receiving threats from the authorities inside the prison.
The case of Osorbo is emblematic of the Cuban government’s policy of repression of freedom of expression and persecution of critical voices. State-sponsored acts of violence and cases of arbitrary arrest have severely increased over the past year, hitting a peak in July with
attacks on peaceful demonstrators. Since 11 July 2021, more than one thousand arrests and disappearances, including instances of people forced to go into hiding, have been recorded. At least 55 artists and writers are currently either under house arrest, imprisoned, or under investigation.
The Cuban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maykel Osorbo, and end all ongoing criminal proceedings against him.
This is what you can do:
- Write to the Cuban authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Maykel Osorbo, and for an end to all ongoing criminal proceedings against him.
- Spread the word about his case. Encourage others in your network to take action on his behalf.
Here is a sample letter you can adapt. Please send letters, social media messages and emails to:
Sr. Miguel Díaz-Canel
Email: [email protected]
Minister of Justice
Mr. Oscar Silvera Martínez
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @CubaMinjus /
Minister of Culture
Alpidio Alonso Grau
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Minrex)
Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla
Email: [email protected]
Please send emails to the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in your own country.
Please inform PEN International of any action you take and of any responses you receive.
Raise awareness of Maykel Osorbo’s case on social media, using the sample messages below and the hashtags #MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel #ImprisonedWriter.
- Cuban rapper Maykel Osorbo has been held in pre-trial detention since 18 May 2021, in relation to his music and activism against state censorship of artistic works. Today I join PEN International in calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Please take action with us, we are stronger together #MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel #ImprisonedWriter [insert link]
- I support PEN International’s Day of the #ImprisonedWriter campaign, and stand in solidarity with Cuban musician and activist Maykel Osorbo. Will you join us and call for his release? Your support matters #MaykelOsorbo #FreeMaykel [insert link]
- Cuban rapper #MaykelOsorbo has been held in detention since May in relation to his music and activism against state censorship of artistic works. With @pen_int, I say #FreeMaykel. Please take action with us, we are stronger together. RT #ImprisonedWriter [insert link]
- I support @pen_int’s Day of the #ImprisonedWriter campaign, and stand in solidarity with Cuban musician and activist #MaykelOsorbo. Will you join us and call for his release? Your support matters #FreeMaykel. RT [insert link]
Please share this graphic on social media to highlight Maykel Osorbo’s case.
Please send solidarity messages to Maykel Osorbo using the following email address: [email protected]
Please consider electing Maykel Osorbo as an honorary member of your Centre.
We further encourage you to highlight the case of Maykel Osorbo and the state of freedom of expression in Cuba by:
- Publishing articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press;
- Organising public events, press conferences and demonstrations;
- Checking and promoting Maykel Osorbo’s songs such as Patria y Vida, Imposible olvidar, De que me van hablar, No Hay Otra Igual.
Please keep us informed of your activities. Messages can be sent to Alicia Quiñones, Americas Programme Coordinator, at PEN International, email: [email protected]