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Exercising ‘Free Speech’ In Cuba Leads Human Rights Activist to Beatings and Hunger Strike

Picture Credit: Daniel Machado

Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as “El Sexto,” is a human rights activist who was recently imprisoned for writing on a wall in spray paint “Se fue (he is gone)” referring to the recent death of Fidel Castro.

Maldonado is known for his anti-communist protests through his works of art. He had the opportunity to study at Miami Dade College for one semester and mentioned during his time there that he was very fortunate to take part in such a program. He described the major differences between the US ad Cuba in an article that he had written on February 13th, 2014. In the article he mentioned, “the only group for the youth to join [In Cuba] is the UJC, the Union of Young Communists.”

After being arrested, Maldonado told his mother that he is currently on a hunger strike after suspecting that police had been adding drugs into his food. His fiancé stated that “If anyone can handle getting arrested in Cuba, it is him.” Maldonado is not  new to the Cuban jail system by any means. On Christmas Day 2014, he was thrown in jail for painting “Raul” and “Fidel” on pigs, which he had planned to realease. While in jail, he had a 24 day hunger-strike and was “near death.

Currently, he is estimated to be in jail for two months or longer for spray painting and “damaging public property,” however, it is important to note that there is pro-government graffiti that can be found throughout Cuba. He was detained by Cuban authorities, after receiving no charges or trial. Maldonado demanded an inhaler, for an asthma attack he had suffered that had been triggered by the brutal beatings that he has been receiving. The more he pleaded for an inhaler, the worse he had gotten beaten.

Though there is a chance that Maldonado can survive his tenure in jail on his own. However, we won’t see any expedited action from the United States or any foreign nation, after many heads of states  praised the life of Fidel Castro and the popularity of Raul Castro.

Follow the Author on Twitter and Facebook @frankcolom and Frankie Colom

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About Francisco Colom (4 Articles)
Graduated from Roger Williams University in 2016 with a major in Accounting, and minors in Spanish, Finance, and Management. Currently a Tax Accountant at KPMG LLP. The views expressed are my own.

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