|Innocent but imprisoned Cuban artists not on the list of pardoned prisoners|
- First, Capitol Hill Cubans pointed out the timing of the sentencing of Leopoldo López Mendoza on September 10th by Havana's puppet regime in Caracas and the September 11th announcement. This is a coordinated, diversionary tactic.
- Secondly, Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles observed over twitter that "the Cuban regime equates rapists and pedophiles with free thinking, civically engaged people" and concludes asking: "Where are the changes?" This pattern of seeking to slander nonviolent dissidents stretches back decades in Cuba and presently it can be seen in action in Venezuela.
- Third, the Cuban dictatorship published a list of the 3,522 prisoners to be pardoned and no political prisoners are present, including those only charged with "dangerousness."
A Denmark based NGO that focuses on artists imprisoned for their work has weighed in on the plight of two Cuban prisoners of conscience. Less than a month ago on August 28, 2015 the Denmark based nongovernmental organization, Free Muse, called for the release of two Cuban artists imprisoned for practicing their craft.
The Cuban graffiti artist and activist Danilo Maldonado Machado, best known as El Sexto, was arrested on 25 December 2014 while he was on his way to put on a performance art piece called ‘Rebelión en la Granja’ – the title in Spanish of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm – which included two pigs decorated with the names Fidel and Raúl.
On 28 January 2015, the rapper Maikel Oksobo ‘El Dkano’ (real name: Maikel Castillo Pérez) was sentenced to a year in prison in Havana. It is generally believed he was targeted for having used music to express his dissenting political opinions. El Dkano was sentenced under a charge known as ‘peligrosidad predelictiva’ (‘dangerousness that is likely leading to a crime’)Unfortunately, the drive to legitimize the Castro regime by the John Kerry State Department as part of the drive for normalization of relations has led to a focus by the international media on state to state relations while under reporting grassroots opposition initiatives.
For example on January 15, 2015 with the support of over 200 activists from throughout Cuba, the Forum for Rights and Freedoms (The Forum) came into existence. 15 opposition groups, various independent journalists, artists and activists founded this initiative. One of the main campaigns of The Forum is an Amnesty Law for Cuba’s political prisoners. They have followed up on this by exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully with regular protests demanding amnesty. The repression has been violent and at times brutal.
Members of The Forum are engaged in gathering signatures for a letter to Pope Francis to intercede on behalf of the artist Danilo Maldonado, mentioned above. In pursuit of their campaign for a amnesty law for political prisoners they will once again be out marching this Sunday. Please follow them on social media by the hashtag #TodosMarchamos (We All March).