Danilo Maldonado Machado.

Cuban Artist El Sexto Beaten and Arrested in Havana

Alexandra Martinez reports in the Miami New Times that the Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado Machado, also known as El Sexto, was arrested shortly after the announcement of former Cuban president Fidel Castro’s death on November 25.

The artist had attempted to travel from Cuba to Miami several times, as he is supposed to prepare a performance piece, titled “La Libertad Artistica,” for Art Basel Miami Beach and an exhibition of his works for the Danish Gallery Agerled at the Art Concept Miami fair. The artist had been cleared to travel by officials, but he was “marked” at the airport and not allowed to leave the country.

Hours before he was detained, Machado was shouting “abajo Fidel, abajo Raúl” (Down with Fidel, down with Raúl) in the streets. Around noon, state security forces made their way onto his property, obtained his key from the landlord, and dragged Machado from his home. He was on the phone with the New Times just prior to and during his arrest. There have been no official charges filed, and there is no record of Machado’s detention.

A plainclothes officer told the artist’s mother that Machado had been taken to Villa Marista, a state security prison known for housing political prisoners. Later, she was informed he had been moved to the police station at Guanabacoa.

Machado received the Human Rights Foundation’s Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent in May 2015, after he spent ten months in Cuba’s Valle Grande prison for a photo he posted of two live pigs with “Fidel” and “Raúl” written on them. His hunger strike there gained the attention of organizations such as Amnesty International, which named him a prisoner of conscience. Machado was also detained during President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba last March.