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    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

    Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, better known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth)
    was released from Cuba’s Valle Grande prison 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
    “prisoner 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 freedom of expression 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 –

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