Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) has initiated an effort to free two jailed Cuban artists who have been imprisoned since the July 11, 2021, protests.
Throughout this effort, Rep. Wasserman Schultz plans to “highlight the injustice” of the artists and their persecution, working with President Joe Biden (D) and his administration to make their freedom a priority in future dealings with Cuba.
“I’m grateful the Biden Administration granted humanitarian parole to both Luis Manuel and Maykel, but for the Cuban regime, exiling these patriots isn’t enough. Their very existence is a threat,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “While these cases are egregious, thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters have been jailed, tortured, or killed. If we truly intend to live up to our nation’s values, we must work tirelessly to liberate those who continually sacrifice their freedom for others.”
The artists – Maykel “Osorbo” Castillo Pérez and Luis Manuel – face awful conditions in the Cuban prison system, including a lack of proper medical care.
According to Wasserman Schultz, Maykel endures the horrors of the system, including inmate threats, solitary confinement, and denied family visits and medical attention.
“Yet he still rebels however he can,” said the Florida congresswoman. “On the anniversary of the July 11 protests, he sewed his mouth shut and tattooed ‘Patria Y Vida’ on his arm. Maykel told friends: ‘I have enough strength to keep bleeding…I prefer with great pride to descend in a coffin than to bow.’”
Manuel faces a similar predicament as well. Wasserman Schultz told the House Floor that the Cuban artist has experienced “extreme weight loss and severe medical issues.” He has also been denied food and water at times.
She concluded, “As co-chair of the Cuba Democracy Caucus, I proudly join forces with Freedom House and Amnesty International to demand justice for Maykel and Luis Manuel through the Defending Freedoms Project. I intend to use my platform to ensure their unconditional release is a top priority in any discussion of Cuba policy. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me.”
The Florida congresswoman has partnered with Freedom House and Amnesty International to advance this effort.