Cuban secret police have abducted the anti-communist artist Danilo Maldonado, according to his mother, who told the Spain-based Diario de Cuba that he had taken to the streets late Friday to celebrate the death of dictator Fidel Castro.
“They asked the landlady for his key, they broke into his house and took him away. We don’t know where,” María Victoria Machado González said of her son, calling his arrest an “abduction.” “He went out last night to celebrate Fidel Castro’s death, to place signs all over Havana,” she noted.
Maldonado had reportedly begun to spray-paint the words “he’s gone” along the streets of Havana. “The images are already circulating” in Cuba, his mother alleged. Police are reportedly stationed outside his door, preventing anyone from entering the apartment. Maldonado’s mother fears police are planting evidence in his house to keep him detained on false charges.
Even if they do not plant any evidence, Maldonado’s mother says the artist kept a collection of about 30 political works, all of which could be punishable under communist law.
Maldonado became famous in Havana for his anti-communist street art and served time in prison in 2015 following an attempted art installation in public. In October 2015, Maldonado was arrested carrying two pigs painted with the names “Fidel” and “Raúl” on their backs, in an homage to the novel 1984. He planned to set them loose in a Havana square.
Following his release, Maldonado – whose artistic name, “The Sixth,” is a nod to the spies known as the “Cuban Five” – promised more acts of defiance against the Castros.
Maldonado was again arrested in March, shortly after President Barack Obama departed from his historic visit to the island.
On Univisión Saturday afternoon, fellow dissident Berta Soler, the leader of the dissident Ladies in White group, warned that the dissident community is expecting a crackdown against them following Fidel Castro’s death, especially in light of the government-mandated nine-day mourning period. “Detentions of human rights activists may increase starting today,” she said via telephone. “Raúl is afraid that we will start protesting in the streets [like] in Miami.” She added that the Ladies in White are considering staying home tomorrow for the first time in years to maximize the effectiveness of their protests. The group – consisting of the wives, daughters, siblings, and mothers of political prisoners – attend Sunday Catholic Mass together every Sunday carrying the images of their relations imprisoned for their opposition to communism. Every Sunday they are arrested, beaten, and dragged in the streets, often released hundreds of miles from home with no way to return.