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Friends of ‘El Sexto’ Ask the Pope to Intercede for His Release

Friends of ‘El Sexto’ Ask the Pope to Intercede for His Release /
14ymedio, Luz Escobar
Posted on September 14, 2015

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Mexico, 13 September 2015 — Fifty friends of
Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto (the Sixth), signed a letter to Pope Francis
on Sunday, asking him to intercede for the release of the artist. The
letter, published in the digital site Causes, states: “We come to you
with the hope that you can intercede to repair the injustice against
this young artist.”

The signatories to this letter describe El Sexto as an artist who
decided “to express his dissatisfaction with the Government through
graffiti and handing out flyers.” They explain that for this reason “he
has lived under constant police vigilance and harassment.” A pressure
expressed through innumerable arrests, “arbitrary searches of his home
and confiscation of his paint cans.”

The initiative, promoted by his friend and colleague Lia Villares,
explains that “for more than eight months he has been held in custody
without a trial or formal accusations [and thus] we, Danilo’s friends,
are demanding his unconditional release and that our most essential
freedoms be respected.” The text also makes “a call for genuine and
transparent tolerance.”

El Sexto was arrested last December 25, while preparing for a
performance that would have dropped two pigs in a Havana square with the
names Fidel and Raul painted on their sides. Currently he is being held
in the Valle Grande prison, accused of disrespect, a crime which could
result in a sentence of from one to three years in prison, although to
date he has not been taken to trial.

The letter also conveys the fear of many activists that there will be a
possible wave of repression during the days of Pope Francis’s visit to
the Island. “Know that many of us will be incarcerated for the sole
reason of your visit to Cuba,” it warns. “Our telephone services will be
illegally cut off to prevent our attending the Mass at Civic Plaza*.”

A strong police operation was carried out against peaceful dissidents
and opponents during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba. Between
March 26 and 28 in 2012, when he was in the country, the authorities
carried out dozens of arrests of activists, house arrests and massive
cuts in the mobile phone lines belonging to representatives of
independent civil society.

The signatories of the letter concluded that “the right to freedom of
expression and artistic creation deserves respect and value,” such that
“our government must protect critical artists, not persecute them.”

In recent weeks, several independent groups have sent letters to Pope
Francis in advance of his arrival in Cuba. Among them are the Patriotic
Union of Cuba (UNPACU), the United Anti-totalitarian Front (FANTU) and
the Cuban Civil Society Open Forum. Almost all messages agree in the
request for the release of political prisoners and to intercede with the
Government of Cuba for greater freedom and dialogue.

Link: Please sign the petition:
https://www.causes.com/campaigns/95772-libertadparadanilo

*Translator’s note: “Civic Plaza” is the pre-Revolution name of what is
now called the “Plaza of the Revolution.”

Source: Friends of ‘El Sexto’ Ask the Pope to Intercede for His Release
/ 14ymedio, Luz Escobar | Translating Cuba –
http://translatingcuba.com/friends-of-el-sexto-ask-the-pope/

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