Post-Castro Cuba Continues to Lock Up Dissenting Artists

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Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto," in his house in Havana on October 20, 2015, when he was released after 10 months in jail for "disrespect of the leaders of the revolution" over a satire of Fidel and Raul Castro. Anthony L. Fisher writes that El Sexto's mother, Maria Victoria Machado, says his neighbors had told her Cuban authorities invaded his apartment and "violently dragged him down the stairs into an awaiting patrol car, all while punching him in the stomach and torso." Enrique de la Osa/reuters

This article first appeared on Reason.com.

Cuba's nine days of official mourning for its deceased former dictator Fidel Castro has mercifully concluded, but his penchant for locking up artists who aren't sufficiently appreciative of the island prison state's health care and education lives on.

Danilo Maldonado Machado, the Cuban street artist also known as "El Sexto," has reportedly been locked up since the day after Castro's death for the crime of spray-painting " Se fue " (He's gone) on the wall of a Havana hotel.

El Sexto's mother, Maria Victoria Machado, says his neighbors had told her authorities invaded his apartment and "violently dragged him down the stairs into an awaiting patrol car, all while punching him in the stomach and torso," the CBC reports.

Machado also claims her son has been beaten while in detention, and refuses to eat the food his jailers are offering out of fear that it is laced with drugs meant to keep him compliant.

Although pro-government graffiti can be found all over Cuba, for "damage to public property," El Sexto could be held for 60 days.

Related: How Trump violated the U.S. embargo on Cuba

This isn't the first time the 33-year-old dissident has been locked up for artistic expression, he also spent 10 months in jail for painting the names "Fidel" and "Raul" on two pigs, with the intention of releasing them in public. He was arrested before his stunt could be accomplished, but his efforts did not go unnoticed. Human Rights Foundation awarded him the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent in 2015.

Anthony L. Fisher is an associate editor for Reason.com.

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Post-Castro Cuba Continues to Lock Up Dissenting Artists | Opinion