Freemuse: Release Imprisoned Cuban Artists

Friday, August 28, 2015
Cuba: Freemuse calls for the release of imprisoned artists

The Cuban graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, best known as El Sexto, who has been arbitrarily imprisoned for eight months in the Valle Grande prison, located west of Havana, has initiated a hunger strike, according to El Nuevo Herald and various other sources.

El Sexto was arrested on 25 December 2014 while he was on his way to put on a performance art piece called ‘Rebelión en la Granja’ – the title in Spanish of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm – which included two pigs decorated with the names Fidel and Raúl.

El Sexto was charged with contempt, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. According to El Sexto’s mother, María Victoria Machado, he is going on a hunger strike to protest his continued detention without due process.

El Sexto is not the only young artist imprisoned in Cuba. On 28 January 2015, the rapper Maikel Oksobo ‘El Dkano’ (real name: Maikel Castillo Pérez) was sentenced to a year in prison in Havana. It is generally believed he was targeted for having used music to express his dissenting political opinions. El Dkano was sentenced under a charge known as ‘peligrosidad predelictiva’ (‘dangerousness that is likely leading to a crime’), which is used to imprison dissidents for long terms.

Freemuse calls for the release of the two artists. “Cuba over the years has produced and supported many great artists, but it is appalling that the Cuban authorities continue to repress artists, who are addressing serious problems,” said Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director. “A solid state system should not fear but stimulate artistic freedom and live up to international conventions guaranteeing freedom of speech.”

Freemuse is an independent international organization advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers.