The wife of a jailed Cuban rapper known for his vocal opposition to the Castro regime is calling on America’s music industry to stand by her husband, who is on the brink of death after 24 days on a hunger strike.
Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, 30, nicknamed “El Critico” (The Critic) was arrested on March 26, 2013.
His crime? His music.
Seven months later, Remon Arzuaga was sentenced to eight years in prison without a trial charged with “resistance” against the communist regime. That same day, October 15, the rebel rapper started a hunger strike protesting the charges and in the hopes of getting a fair trial.
Now the once vocalist of “Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” (“The Children Nobody Wanted”) is in critical condition in a Bayamo military hospital, east of the island. He was admitted on October 28th.
Yudisbel Roseyo, Remon’s wife and mother to their nine-month old son, told Fox News Latino her husband has low blood pressure and leg cramps, and that doctors said he is on the verge of falling into a coma.
“He is not going to eat,” she said. “They have to make a decision, it’s freedom or death. If he dies, we both will blame the Castro brothers and the Cuban government.”
Roseyo, a member of the Ladies in White activist group, said her husband is thankful for the support, but called on more pressure from other artists to speak out against her husband’s unjust imprisonment over his lyrics and political views. Over the past few years, hunger strikes have become an anti-establishment tactic that has been used frequently in Cuba, above all after cases like that of Guillermo Fariñas, a well known Cuban dissident who holds the record with more than 24 hunger strikes.
"My message to America's singers [is] please use your voices, and help save my husband’s life," said Roseyo to Fox News Latino. "I would be grateful a million times over, and thankful if they could stand by us and ask the Cuban government for his freedom."
The hashtag #FreeElCritico has been launched on Twitter in solidarity of the jailed rapper. Thus far, Cuban American singers Gloria Estefan and Albita Rodriguez have tweeted out their support. But some, noting the power of international support, are calling on more mainstream artists to throw their celebrity weight behind the effort to bring justice to one of their own. On Wednesday, the New York Post called out rapper Jay Z for pumping money into the coffers of the communist regime while on a visit to Cuba in May with his wife Beyonce and yet choosing to say nothing about the imprisoned local Cuban rapper.
“He went to Cuba and supported the regime, and visits like it’s a free country, but why not support other rappers?” said Betsy Gonzalez, a 40-year-old human rights activist for the freedom of Cuba. Gonzalez helped organize a rally for “El Critico” at the popular Cuban restaurant Versailles in Miami on Friday evening.
Consistently targeted for his anti-regime message, Remon Arzuaga had been detained a series of times, days before his arrest, for handing out pro-freedom flyers in Bayamo. He was let go but according to Roseyo on March 26th the Cuban regime organized mobs to shout insults and threaten his family at his home. Undeterred, Remon Arzuaga, a member of pro-freedom activist group the Patriotic Union of Cuba stepped outside of his home and called on the people in the street to join the opposition against the government.
State Security officials arrested him later that day and took him to Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo. While in prison, the musician has been beaten, denied medical assistance, and even contracted cholera in July.
Roseyo is hopeful international pressure will force the Cuban government to give her husband a fair trial that will eventually lead to his freedom.
“I have faith something is going to happen,” she said. “If it doesn’t ― I am not ready for his death but I support my husband in whatever he decides. Ultimately, the Cuban government is at fault and they have the decision in their hands.”