Release El Sexto

UPDATE: El Sexto was released January 21, 2016, with no official explanation after spending 2 months in prison. He was never charged or given a trial. He notes that strong international pressure against his unjust imprisonment is the reason for his release. Thank you for lending your voice to speak out against this violation of freedom of expression.

Street artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as El Sexto, was arrested in Havana, Cuba Saturday, November 26th. There have been no official charges, but authorities have stated that he was arrested for damage to public property.

The arrest took place on November 26, hours after the announcement of the death of Fidel Castro. His fiancé, Alexandra Martinez, who is a journalist with the Miami New Times, was on the phone with Maldonado and reports that armed security officers stormed into his home, dragged him down the stairs, beat him and took him to a local police station in San Agustan.

El Sexto was reporting live from la Habana Libre Hotel in el Vedado at 5 am, describing the quiet that took over the streets following Castro’s death. He would occasionally shout, “Down with Fidel, down with Raúl!” (Abajo Fidel, abajo Raúl!), and was reported to have graffitied the words “He’s gone” (Se fue) on a building wall.

On December 4, he was moved to Valle Grande prison outside of Havana. His mother was able to visit on December 5th. She reports that he has been beaten and is refusing to eat the prison food for fear that it has been laced with drugs to “quiet him down.” He did eat some food that she brought, however authorities have told her that they will only permit her to visit once a week. They also said that he could be there for another 60 days.

According to his mother, “The Cuban government has no problem with graffiti, even on private homes, if it expresses support for Castro and the revolution. Why can’t he put [up] one against the regime? If they want to do something, they can give him a fine or a ticket. But not put him in the police station to beat him.”

We need you to speak up against this unlawful detainment and violation of human rights.

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