Amnesty International Calls for Release of Cuban Street Artist Danilo Maldonado
He was arrested for disrespecting the leaders of the Cuban revolution.
The human rights group Amnesty International has declared Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado a prisoner of conscience and called for his release.
Thirty-two-year-old Maldonado was imprisoned at the end of last year for reportedly showing “disrespect of the leaders of the revolution” after authorities stopped his taxi on the way to an art exhibition and discovered two pigs in the back seat with the names “Fidel” and “Raul” written on their backs, reports Reuters. The stunt was a reference to former president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, and his brother and current president Raul Castro.
Josefina Salomon, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International told Reuters, “We are declaring him a prisoner of conscience. At the moment, he is the only prisoner of conscience in Cuba. However, we are evaluating a number of other cases,” she said.
Officially, the Cuban government denies that it incarcerates its citizens for political reasons. However, the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation estimates that there are currently about 60 political prisoners in the country.
Elizardo Sanchez, the Commission’s leader said Maldonado “has been held for a long time in a high security prison, without formal charges and without trial.”
“To jail an artist for painting a name on a pig is ludicrous,” Carolina Jimenez, Americas deputy director for research at Amnesty International said in a statement. “Cuban authorities are using any cowardly excuse to silence Danilo and send a message to others that any criticism of the government and its officials will not be tolerated.”
Despite an agreement reached on December 17, 2014 with the United States under which Cuba released 53 political prisoners, the thawing relations between the two nations did not stop authorities from locking up Maldonado only eight days later.
Although the nations have restored diplomatic relations, the Cuban government maintains the belief that local dissidents are nurturing US interests by deliberately destabilizing the government.
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