A Cuban graffiti artist who has been unfairly held in prison for nearly a year after he painted “Raúl” and “Fidel” on the backs of two pigs has been named as a prisoner of conscience, said Amnesty International today as it called for his immediate release.
Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’, was accused of “disrespecting the leaders of the Revolution” and sent to prison after officers opened the taxi’s boot and found the two pigs. Danilo intended to release them in an art show on Christmas Day.
“To jail an artist for painting a name on a pig is ludicrous. Cuban authorities are using any cowardly excuse to silence Danilo and send a message to others that any criticism of the government and its officials will not be tolerated,” said Carolina Jiménez, Americas Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International.
“What this story shows is that while Raúl Castro shakes hands with the world in his historic visit to the USA, things have hardly changed in Cuba, where people are still being thrown in jail solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
Danilo was arrested by agents of the political police (Seguridad del Estado) in Havana while travelling in a taxi on 25 December 2014 and has been in prison ever since. He recently began a hunger strike and has been moved to an isolation cell.
“Danilo is a prisoner of conscience who should have never been put in prison in the first place. He must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Carolina Jiménez.