Oddity: In Castro’s Cuba, some pigs more equal than others
Jailing of street artist has Orwellian feel
HAVANA — The Cuban street artist known as El Sexto was freed this week after spending 10 months behind bars for attempting to set free in a public park two pigs painted with the names of the country’s highest leaders.
International human rights groups called his case a vivid demonstration of how Cuba’s harsh limits on free expression remain in full force despite its economic opening and detente with the United States.
Maldonado, 33, was arrested a week after the declaration of detente last year as he drove toward Havana’s Central Park in a rented car with two pigs covered with green paint and the names Fidel and Raul in red, in mockery of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother who has led the country since 2008.
Until recently, Maldonado’s case had drawn less attention than that of expatriate Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, who was briefly arrested and had her passport confiscated after she tried to convene a free speech forum in Cuba’s Plaza of the Revolution shortly after Dec. 17. Bruguera has since had her passport returned and left Cuba.
But in recent months, Amnesty International and other human rights group began calling for Maldonado’s release and describing his case as a test of Cuba’s openness to dissent.
His detention showed that “there are some topics and themes that journalists and writers know they can’t touch,” said Elizardo Sanchez, head of Cuba’s non-governmental Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Maldonado told The Associated Press that he had been held without charge since Dec. 25 “simply because I made fun of the highest leaders of this revolution.”
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