Hunger strike in Cuba
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    ‘El Sexto’ – Cuba Can Change Only If People “Wake Up Inside”

    ‘El Sexto’: Cuba Can Change Only If People “Wake Up Inside” / 14ymedio
    Posted on February 19, 2016

    EFE (14ymedio), Ana Mengotti, Miami, 19 February 2016 — Cuban graffiti
    El Sexto (The Sixth), who spent ten months in prison for having written
    the names of Fidel and Raul on two live pigs that he intended to release
    in Havana, told EFE that Cuba will change only when “people wake up inside.”

    The week that he opens his first exhibition in the United States,
    sponsored by the London’s Pollock Gallery and the Human Rights
    Foundation of America, Danilo Maldonado is amazed to be living a
    “dream,” but there are also moments when he thinks about the
    consequences of his efforts.

    In Miami’s Market Gallery, El Sexto, (a nickname that refers “The Cuban
    Five,” the group of Cuban agents who served sentences in the United
    States for espionage and who are considered heroes by Raul Castro’s
    government), will present his artworks created in the Netherlands, Cuba
    and the United States, including 40 drawings done in prison.

    The title of the exposition is Pork, an animal revered for its meat by
    Cubans and one that unwittingly led this graffiti artist to prison.
    “Blame George Orwell,” he jokes.

    Maldonado, 32, tried to do a piece of performance art in Cuba based on
    Animal Farm, Orwell’s satire about Stalinism in which the animals rise
    up against the farmer under the leadership of the pigs, who end up
    perverting the new rules and imposing their own power.

    At Christmas of 2014 he was arrested in Havana before he was able to
    release two pigs, painted green and with the names Raul and Fidel
    written on their hides; he remained in prison without charges for ten
    months.

    While behind bars he drew and wrote a kind of diary, when he was not in
    isolation, undertook a hunger strike, and was declared a prisoner of
    conscience by Amnesty International. He also won the 2015 Vaclav Havel
    International Prize for Creative Dissidence, awarded by the Human Rights
    Foundation.

    As appetizer to his exhibition in Miami on Thursday, 25 February, he
    will stage a live evening performance, accompanied by his friend Gorki
    Aguila and his band Porno para Ricardo, and a curious film by Andy
    Warhol entitled “The Life of Juanita Castro.”

    There may also be some pig there, says this mysterious artist, who
    believes that “art can do everything.”

    For this reason he does not forgive many Cuban artists who, in his view,
    have been, and are, accomplices of the Castro regime. “That is the art
    of lies,” he says, about those who “are not capable of questioning the
    system.”

    “Much of the blame for this system that has lasted so long is on the
    artists,” he says, convinced that they have helped to legitimize Fidel
    Castro, leader of the Revolution, and his brother Raul, today president
    of Cuba, and they have also helped to deform the minds of Cubans.

    But the blame is not entirely on the “hostages,” he says, referring to
    Cubans. There are also other governments in the Americas and Europe who
    have contributed to perpetuating totalitarianism in Cuba, he asserts.

    When El Sexto was able to leave Cuba, thanks to a grant from Justice and
    Peace Netherlands, and came to know the world “outside,” he felt he had
    been “robbed” his whole life and that “an experiment” had been carried
    out on him and on Cubans in general.

    However, he does not plan to leave Cuba and entirely forget about it,
    like others. “Of course (I will return), I was born there for a reason,”
    he says.

    He has a daughter in Cuba, Renata Maria who is two-and-a-half, and he
    told EFE that everything he does “is to let her name rise higher.”

    An anonymous hand placed next to the gallery entrance where El Sexto
    will have his debut as an exhibitor, two stickers made my him: one is a
    portrait of Renata with a chick on her head and the word “despiertica”
    (little awake one), and the other a self-portrait with a rooster on his
    own head and the word “awake.”

    Cubans “waking up within” is, for El Sexto, the only way to change Cuba,
    apart from, clearly, “the [Castro] government stepping down,” a
    government that “has spent 50 years taking things from the people and
    exercising power by force.”

    Danilo Maldonado admits that when he was younger he thought “about
    trying to escape,” but then he came to understand his role as an artist.
    When he was younger than now, painting the walls of Havana made him feel
    good, but he looked at art as a hobby, like an affair with a woman. At
    age 25, after having done everything, including a job as a computer
    teacher, he decided to turn completely to art. “Today I am happily
    married,” he says.

    Source: ‘El Sexto’: Cuba Can Change Only If People “Wake Up Inside” /
    14ymedio | Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/el-sexto-cuba-can-change-only-if-people-wake-up-inside-14ymedio/

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