Berlin - Renowned Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida was arrested on 26 June in Cuba's capital, shortly after his return from Berlin. Künstlerhaus Bethanien, where the 38-year-old had been a resident in the international studio programme, announced the news on its website Monday.

Lavastida flew back to Cuba on 21 June and is currently being detained in the Villa Marista prison in Havana. The prison on the outskirts of the city is the headquarters of the Cuban security forces and is primarily for political prisoners.

14ymedio, which claims it's Cuba's first online independent media, describes Lavastida as one of the most important artists of his generation. He has repeatedly criticised the Cuban government and complained about repression.

"Hamlet Lavastida is a courageous artist who acts within the freedom of art. With his works, he makes use of his right to freedom of expression," writes the Künstlerhaus and demands his immediate release.

The artist's mother was informed by the authorities on Saturday about her son's arrest, according to 14ymedio. He was reportedly arrested in the compulsory quarantine centre for those returning from abroad.

Dozens of artists in Cuba and beyond have spoken out on social media against Lavastida's arrest. Lester Álvarez, for example, said that Lavastida had been arrested only because he had openly voiced his opinion against the authoritarian Cuban government.

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