Dec. 14, 2015 | Press Releases

El Sexto in New York: Cuban Prisoner of Conscience Visits HRF

NEW YORK (December 14, 2015) — Human Rights Foundation (HRF) met with Cuban artist and dissident Danilo "El Sexto" Maldonado last Tuesday. After being imprisoned for ten months, without trial, for creating art that Cuban authorities considered "defamatory," the graffiti artist arrived in New York City to meet with HRF staff, including HRF chairman Garry Kasparov.

El Sexto in New York: Cuban Prisoner of Conscience Visits HRF

“HRF played a huge role in securing my freedom,” said El Sexto. “Their awarding me the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent made people all around the world aware of my arbitrary imprisonment and increase international pressure for my release,” he added.

El Sexto was arrested on December 25, 2014 while traveling to put on a performance art piece entitled “Rebelión en la Granja” — the title in Spanish of George Orwell’s classic “Animal Farm.” The piece included two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raúl.” The artist was ›accused of “disrespecting the leaders of the Revolution” and sent to prison. In May 2015, while still in prison, El Sexto was awarded the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent for peacefully advocating for individual rights in Cuba. El Sexto remained incarcerated without trial and was released in October, 2015.

Inspired by his visit to HRF, El Sexto decided to create a work of art in the heart of New York City. Equipped with paint and a canvas, El Sexto painted a self-portrait in the middle of Manhattan's Herald Square.

“We were very happy to finally meet El Sexto in person. But we should keep in mind that his outrageous arbitrary imprisonment was not the first, and will not be the last, as long as Cuba remains an authoritarian state. The world must continue to bear witness and pressure the only totalitarian dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere to allow a transition to democracy,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.