News and Facts about Cuba

Open Letter to Pope Francis for the Release of “El Sexto”

Open Letter to Pope Francis for the Release of “El Sexto”
Posted on September 14, 2015
for Danilo
Open Letter to the Pope
Havana, September 8, 2015

Your Holiness, Pope Francis:

In advance of your visit to our island, a group of Cuban citizens wish
to call your attention to a case that needs an immediate solution. This
is the politically motivated imprisonment of Danilo Maldonado Machado, a
young artist who decided to express his dissatisfaction with the
government through graffiti (urban or street art) and handing out flyers.

Also know as “El Sexto” (The Sixth) – an antithesis of “The Five”: a
superhero invented for his creative work in the public space – Danilo
has lived under constant surveillance and harassment since he
began the exercise of his art: he has been arbitrarily
countless times, they have arbitrarily searched his home, and
confiscated his paint cans.

For more than eight months he has been held in custody without a trial
or formal charges. On December 25, 2014 he prepared a Christmas
performance. It consisted of releasing, in Central Park in Havana, two
piglets greased with the names “Fidel” and “Raul painted on their backs.
An action based on a Cuban peasant tradition. He named it, “Rebellion on
the Farm” [The title used in Spanish for the novel “Animal Farm”].

Agents intercepted him on the way and since then, like someone who tried
very hard before the tribunal to pronounce the precise letters that
evoke “The Unnamable” with profane intentions, and he remains in a
maximum security on the outskirts of Havana.

Danilo has been declared a of conscience. Confined to Valle
Grande Prison for Contempt, an offense described in Article 144.2 of the
Cuban Penal Code which provides for a sentence of one to three years for
anyone “who threatens, slanders, defames, insults or in any way offends
or affronts, orally or in writing, the dignity or decorum … the
President of the State Council, the President of the National Assembly
of People’s Power, members of the State Council or the Council of
Ministers or the Deputies to the National Assembly People Power.”

Converting his action into a crime penalized with disproportionate
penalties, only demonstrates that in Cuba the law criminalizes and
discriminates against those who think differently: our Constitution
denies all freedoms that are “contrary to the principles of the Revolution.”

We do not trust the judicial system where the State plays all the roles:
prosecutor, defense attorney and judge at the same time. At this time
his record is lost and the defense can do nothing until formally until
it appears.

The has rejected three times a request for a change of
pre-trial conditions for Danilo so that he can await his trial in
freedom; according to the argument of the defense: the crime or “crazy
idea… was not carried out.” The prosecutor’s response states that Danilo
is a citizen with “the worst social conduct” and “is not socially useful.”

As friends with ideas that diverge from the official discourse, we have
been prohibited from visiting him in prison. In solidarity, we have
publicized the case in concerts under [police] surveillance, expositions
of Danilo’s drawings made during his long confinement, in collections of
signatures, and campaigns on social networks. We have marched together
with the Ladies in White, demanding an Amnesty Law for political
prisoners, while the State insists on denying that they exist, and at
the same time every Sunday they deploy excessive violence in unjustified
police operations against these women, who walk in peace and who are as
well known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

We come to you with the hope that you can intercede to repair the
injustice against this young artist who has only committed the crime of
daring to be free.

The right to freedom of and artistic creation deserves
respect and value because Cuba presents itself to the world as a country
that loves and Culture. Our government should protect the
interests of critical artists – because one is an artist by nature – not
persecute them. Our artists need to be considered and respected as key
actors of social change, not condemned to prison or censorship.

As Danilo’s friends we demand his unconditional release and that our
most essential freedoms be respected. We call for a genuine and
transparent tolerance: the end of systematic and unjustified violence
against the Ladies in White and every Cuban citizen who wishes to
demonstrate in peace using the public space.

Know that many of us will be incarcerated for the sole reason of your
visit to Cuba and our telephone services will be illegally cut off to
prevent our attending the Mass at Civic Plaza, as happened during the
visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI, when the authorities deployed a
massive police operation throughout the country, limiting the freedom of
movement of peaceful citizens, and suspending without notice and against
every law governing telecommunications services. “Vow of Silence” is
what the government called that unprecedented operation, which we
remember as the “Holy Blackout.”

We bid you welcome to our island, inhabited for the most part by the
humble. Our intention is to wish you a pilgrimage of peace. We also
desire with all our hearts that your visit will be gratifying and
fruitful for everyone involved, including us, all Cubans, and will bring
that peace that we so urgently need along with a genuine hope of rapid
prosperity and national healing.


Gorki Águila, músico (La Habana)
Lia Villares, artista (La Habana)
Claudio Fuentes, fotógrafo y editor (La Habana)
Berta Soler, Dama de Blanco (La Habana)
Tania , artivista (New York)
Ángel Santiesteban, escritor (La Habana)
Luis Trápaga, pintor (La Habana)
Ciro Javier Díaz Penedo, músico y matemático (São Paulo)
Laritza Diversent, abogada independiente (La Habana)
Ailer González, artista (La Habana)
Lizabel Monica, escritora y artista multidisciplinaria (Princeton, New
Camilo E. Olivera, periodista independiente (La Habana)
Yania Suárez, escritora (La Habana)
Boris González Arenas, cineasta (La Habana)
Ernesto Pérez Chang, escritor (La Habana)
Rosa María Payá (Miami)
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, escritor y fotógrafo (Reykjavíj, Islandia)
Regina Coyula, editora (La Habana)
Elena Victoria Molina, cineasta (Barcelona)
Aylin Sardiña Fernández, estilista (Gunzburg, )
Eliécer Ávila Cicilia, ingeniero informático (La Habana)
Iván Hernández Carrillo, sindicalista independiente (Matanzas)
Haisa Alicia Rosabal, editora (Villa Clara)
Sayli Navarro, Dama de Blanco (Matanzas)
Sonia Álvarez Campello, Dama de Blanco (Matanzas)
Yoaxis Marcheco, máster en Teología (Villa Clara)
Mario Félix Lleonart, pastor bautista (Villa Clara)
Maria Victoria Machado, madre de Danilo (La Habana)
Maria Caridad González, abuela de Danilo (La Habana)
Francisco Javier Machado, abuelo de Danilo (La Habana)
Jorge Maldonado Cruz, padre de Danilo (La Habana)
Indira Maldonado Machado, hermana de Danilo (La Habana)
José Darien Espinosa, hermano de Danilo (La Habana)
Frank Correa Lopey, artesano (La Habana)
Aurelio Cobarrubia Rivera, artesano (La Habana)
Erik Jennische, Civil Rights Defenders (Estocolmo)
Oscar Antonio Casanella Saint-Blancard, bioquímico (La Habana)
Dagne Ramírez, diseñadora (New York)
Suyai Otaño, artista (Argentina)
Armando Valdés Zamora, escritor y profesor universitario (París)
Joel Echevarria Rabago, ciudadano de amor (Hialeah)
Azucena Plasencia, periodista (La Habana)
Mariana Hernández, Cuban Soul Foundation (Florida)
Pedro Luis Vidal, Cuban Soul Foundation (Miami)
Karinna Álvarez, Cuban Soul Foundation (Miami)
Sisi Portuondo, Cuban Soul Foundation (Miami);
Yoani Sánchez, 14ymedio (La Habana)

If you want to add your signature also you can do so by sending your
information to the following address:

Just add your name, profession and where you live!

Thanks !!!

Forward please contact your lists!

Complaint to the Prosecutor (CubaLex, August 2015)

Danilo’s personal

Source: Open Letter to Pope Francis for the Release of “El Sexto” |
Translating Cuba –

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