News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba frees artist ‘El Sexto’

Cuba frees artist ‘El Sexto’

The Cuban artist was freed Tuesday morning
Despite having resumed a hunger strike on Saturday, he says he’s in good

He assures he won’t “slack off” in the work he has ahead of him
BY NORA GAMEZ TORRES
ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, better known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth)
was released from Cuba’s Valle Grande Tuesday morning after being
incarcerated without trial for 10 months.

“They arrived at 10 a.m. and took me out of my cell, they took me to
gather my belongings and handcuffed me. All of this took about 15
minutes,” Maldonado said in a telephone interview from his home with el
Nuevo Herald.

“They told me ‘your release is immediate’ and they warned me ‘please,
don’t make the same mistake, you’re being used as a puppet,’ and to not
commit acts of immaturity, and all those crazy things. I didn’t respond
at all,” said the graffiti artist, who assured that despite his thin
frame, he is in good health.

Maldonado said he had resumed a “sit in” and hunger strike on Saturday,
when he realized Cuban authorities had not released him from jail on
Friday as they had promised.

When it was known Maldonado was still incarcerated, Amnesty
International — an organization that declared the young artist as a
of conscience” — published a harsh editorial in which it
criticized the Cuban government for “miserably failing” their promise.

In one of the most notorious artistic censorship cases to take place
during the last few years in Cuba, the graffiti artist was jailed for
attempting a performance with two pigs he named “Fidel” and “Raul.” He
was accused of disorderly conduct but a trial was never held.

While Maldonado was in jail, an international campaign clamoring for his
liberation started growing strong. While in jail, Maldonado said he
experienced the same conditions and scarcities as all prisoners.

“I was in a double-walled cell for 22 days. The key for the lock was
held by the official on guard, so if you faint, the guard of the cell
has to go and look for the key,” he said in reference to his first
hunger strike. “The conditions are extreme in order to break you.”

The graffiti artist thanked the media, which covered his case as well as
the activists, opposition leaders and international organizations who
fought for his release. “Without a doubt, I would still be in jail
[without their help] so I thank every person who did something to
achieve my liberation,” he said.

Maldonado promised to continue his work and confessed that while he’s
planning to take a break to spend time with his daughter, it doesn’t
“mean that I will slack off.”

Maldonado thinks his case will help “stretch the line of prohibition” in
regards to artistic liberty and of in Cuba. “This
time I thought about the thing with the pigs, next time who knows what
I’ll think of doing.”

And without losing his sense of humor, he pinpointed Cuban authorities
for not returning the two pigs involved in the controversial
performance, noting in passing the pigs were female.

Follow Nora Gamez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: Cuba frees artist ‘El Sexto’ | Miami Herald –
www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article40534938.html

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