Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, was released this Tuesday after 10 months of detention in Valle Grande Prison in Havana. At around 10 in the morning, an official entered the cellblock where the artist was detained and told him to collect all his personal belongings. “They handcuffed me and outside I waited for “the negotiator,” the graffiti artist related, and that’s when they said they would release me.” Subsequently he was taken in a car to the door of his home in the Arroya Arenas.
According to a statement from the prison authorities, the artist will not be prosecuted. “They told me my immediate release is ‘without conditions’,” Maldonado told 14ymedio. In a phone conversation with this newspaper the graffiti artist, detained since last December for organizing a performance with two pigs painted with the names of Raul and Fidel, joked about a possible legal claim on his part for the police to return the animals seized at the time of his arrest.
The artist sent a message of thanks to all those “who helped” in his release, especially to the activists who continued to demand his release, the media that publicized his case and to international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
When asked about his immediate plans, he replied: “I have a great deal of work to do, many ideas to put into practice.”
Last week El Sexto declared he would resume the hunger strike if he was not released within the first 15 days of October. He broke a 24-day fast earlier this month on being assured by a lieutenant colonel, who identified himself as a “mediator,” assured him that he would be released in “fewer than 15 days.”
This last Friday Amnesty International issued a statement denouncing the fact that the authorities in Cuba failed “miserably” in not fulfilling the promise of freedom for Danilo Maldonado. The London-based organization believes that the artist is a prisoner of conscience and maintains that the attitude of Havana is “a painful illustration of the indifference of the Cuban government for the freedom of expression.”