Distribute and Act on to Save the Live of El Sexto / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Posted on September 26, 2015
Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth) is a
graffiti artist in Cuba, imprisoned since December 25, 2014 for
attempting to perform an artistic action in a public space.
Danilo has spent 9 months in the Valle Grande prison, charged with the
crime of Contempt, and is waiting for a judicial process, where he faces
a possible sentence of 1 to 3 years imprisonment.
For six years Danilo has suffered police harassment, successive
arbitrary arrests, detentions for more than 72 hours, searches of his
home and confiscation of his works and his working materials. He suffers
from bronchial asthma and has been affected by pneumonia.
– We remind the Cuban authorities that the right to freedom is
indispensable for expression and artistic creation in virtue of Articles
19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; protected by
Article 15 of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory and both of which are
– We insist that the authorities eliminate the restrictions on freedom
of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
– We express our concern because Danilo Maldonado has been detained
solely for exercising his artistic activity, and urge that he be
released immediately and without conditions, because he is a prisoner of
conscience; he has been confined for his peaceful activism in the rescue
of fundamental freedoms in Cuba.
– We insist that the Cuban authorities drop the case immediately.
– We ask the Cuban authorities to stop harassing and intimidating all
the rest of the citizens who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom
of expression and peaceful association.
– We insist that the Cuban authorities promote and protect the right to
freedom of artistic creation, and the right to participate in the
cultural life, to access culture and respect for cultural diversity.
The graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as “El
Sexto” (The Sixth), was arrested on December 25, 2014, when he took two
animals painted with the names of Fidel and Raul and was about to drop
them off in Havana’s Central Park, usually crowded, for a street
intervention. He is formally charged with “Contempt”  and is awaiting
trial. He faces a sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison.
The right to participate in public demonstrations is not recognized in
the Cuban Constitution nor is it legally developed. The Penal Code,
protecting individual rights  includes the right to demonstrate and
sanctions anyone who, in violation of the law, impedes the holding of a
lawful meeting or demonstration, or a person from attending them. If the
crime is committed by a public official, it is an abuse of office and
the penalty is doubled.
However, the legal body  itself considers that a crime is committed
against public order by anyone who participates in meetings or
demonstrations held in violation of the dispositions that regulate the
exercise of this right, dispositions that do not exist. Sanctions are
tripled for the organizers.
There is no procedure to notify or solicit authorization to hold a
protest, nor legal recourses to appeal the refusal. However, there are
frequently marches along central avenues, called and organized by the
government itself, with a marked political-ideological character. The
restrictions imposed on this right by the state, are not provided in law.
The situation of human rights in Cuba has deteriorated sharply in recent
months, with ever more repressive practices entrenched mainly against
the Ladies in White dissident movement and the activists who support
them, and the government’s contempt has become ever more flagrant toward
the recommendations made by the States parties before the Universal
Human Rights Council during the periodic review, in which the priorities
are the ratification and implementation of the Covenants on Civil and
Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and their
In Cuba, “The educational and cultural policy is based on the Marxist
ideology” and is tied to the “promotion of patriotic education and the
communist training of new generations and the preparation of children,
young people and adults for social life. The State, in order to raise
the culture of the people, concerns itself with promotion and developing
artistic education, the vocation for creation and the cultivation of art
and the capacity to appreciate it.” 
In 1961 Fidel Castro marked a limit for the full enjoyment and
realization of the cultural rights of Cubans. In his speech “Words to
the Intellectuals” his iconic phrase, “Within the Revolution,
everything, outside the Revolution, no rights,” paraphrased the dictator
Our Constitution says, “Artistic creativity is free as long as its
content is not contrary to the Revolution,” contradicting itself as it
continues: “The forms of expression in art are free.” 
We believe that the imprisonment of the artist is an excessive punitive
measure in response to the peaceful expression of the politically
critical art of Danilo Maldonado and it is an attempt to silence and
censor even more the artistic scene within the country.
We believe that society has the right for its public spaces to be spaces
for creativity, for artistic expression; because they are also
collective spaces of knowledge and debate. The public space belongs to
civil society and not to governments, corporations or religious
We believe that it is the duty of the State to protect artists as key
actors in social change and to defend their right to dissent, instead of
gagging them, persecuting them and imprisoning them, when they have a
critical attitude toward the government, which is also part of their
role as artists: to question the reality that surrounds them and to be
an active part of its evolutionary transformation.
Other government practices that threaten the enjoyment and full exercise
of cultural rights and artistic-creative freedom in Cuba are:
– Institutional censorship with regard to almost all artistic
– The theft of artist identity (in the case of independent festivals) by
– The right of admission to cinemas, theaters, museums, galleries,
theoretical lectures, denying entrance and participation in public
spaces to people labeled as dissidents or Human Rights activists.
– The use of aesthetic criteria as political conditions through official
censors charged with justifying censorship.
– Manipulation of artists and intellectuals committing them to position
themselves with exclusively political measures like the execution of
three young men who hijacked a boat (2003).
– The social isolation of the artistic guild from smear campaigns and
the intimidation of others.
– The State monopoly on public spaces and institutions that give
authorization to engage in public activities.
– Discrimination and social cancellation of a person as reprisal for
their critical attitude.
With all institutions controlled by the State, if there is forced
expulsion there is no other institution than can take in the person.
– Limitations on the freedom of movement: people are blocked from moving
to alternative spaces when they suffer from police harassment. Refusal
of permission to leave or enter the country, confiscation of passports,
arbitrary detentions, etc.
– Expulsion from schools, workplaces, institutions that protect artists,
for political reasons.
– The application of self-censorship to daily behavior. (People
naturally assume it: censorship is ordinary.)
– Physical violence in arbitrary arrests, home detentions, threats, home
searches, confiscation of works and the means of work, police
interrogations, prison, aggression against the family.
– Lack of official response to legal demands and citizen complaints that
permit the exhaustion of domestic legal recourses.
– The right the authorities take for themselves to impose a single
interpretation on an artistic work.
– The lack of legal recourses that permit the public recognition of
initiatives independent of or alternative to the Ministry of Culture.
– Participation in political activities and military training is
compulsory in the Cuban educational system.
Ideological conditioning in arts education. Forced expulsions.
– The impact of the Ministry of the Interior in the development and
implementation of cultural policies and in the behavior of arts
– The use of artist and intellectuals in the spaces of political repression.
– The promotion and support of the professional careers of artists and
intellectuals is conditioned by their demonstrated compliance with
official policy (policies related to publication, movie production,
– Independent NGOs are not entitled to receive funding under the “New
Law of Cultural Investment,” requiring all financing to pass through the
Ministry of Culture.
– Demonization of financing secured by artists officially discriminated
– Use of art as popular recreation and not as a method of critical
questioning and a space for promoting freedom.
Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz
President of the Republic of Cuba Havana,
Cuba E-mail .: email@example.com
firstname.lastname@example.org (c / o Mission of Cuba to the UN)
Fax: +53 33 085 July 83 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Your Excellency
General Abelardo Colome Ibarra
Minister of the Interior and Prisons
Ministry of Interior, Plaza de la Revolution, Havana, Cuba
Fax: +537 85 56 621 (pressed “send” when you hear the voice in Spanish)
Email .: email@example.com
Salutation: Your Excellency
Dr. Dario Delgado Cura
Attorney General of the Republic
Attorney General’s Office, Amistad 552, e/ Monte and Estrella,
Fax: + 537 669485 / + 537 333164
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
Maria Esther Reus González
Minister of Justice
Salutation: Ms. Minister of Justice
Hon. Mr. Alejandro Gonzalez GALEANO
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Paseo. de la Habana, 194, 28036 – MADRID
Phone: 91 359 25 00 Fax: 91 359 61 45
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations Office
100 chemin de Valérie, Chambésy 1292
Fax: +41 22 758 9431
Diplomatic Mission of the Republic of Cuba in Brussels
77 rue Roberts Jones
1180 Uccle, Belgium
Fax: + 32 2 344 9661
 Article 144.1 and 144.2 of the Criminal Code, Section Three:
Anyone who threatens, slanders, defames, insults or in any way outrages
or offends, orally or in writing, the dignity or decorum of a public
authority, public official, or their agents or auxiliaries, in the
exercise of their functions or on the occasion or by reason of them,
shall be punished by imprisonment of three months to one year or a fine
of one hundred to three hundred shares, or both.
If the action described in the preceding paragraph is committed against
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 of the National Assembly of People’s Power,
the penalty is imprisonment of one to three years.
 Article 292 Penal Code
 Article 209 Penal Code
 Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. Chapter V. Education and
Culture, Article 39
 Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. Chapter V. Education and
Culture, Article 39
Source: Distribute and Act on to Save the Live of El Sexto / Orlando
Luis Pardo Lazo | Translating Cuba –