Danilo Maldonado

Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as El Sexto (The Sixth), born April 1, 1983, is a Cuban graffiti artist and human rights activist who has been arrested and imprisoned several times. His graffiti are a form of protest, criticizing the abuse of the Cuban people at the hands of the Castro regime, and he is “frequently detained by the police under any pretext.” He has been called “a graffiti artist who does not forgive the Cuban regime.” A report in April 2015 stated that he was, at that time, “the most persecuted of Cuban artists.”

Cuban writer and artist Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo has praised Maldonado as “a free artist widely hated for his courage and his genius.” Cuban dissident Rosa María Payá has said that although born under totalitarianism, Maldonado has somehow managed to be a free spirit and “the Cuban regime does not forgive that.”

Maldonado studied at Miami Dade College (MDC) during the Spring 2014 semester, during the time when the Institution hosted fifteen students from Cuba as part of a new program sponsored by the Miami-based Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC). While at MDC, Maldonado studied sociology, computers, psychology, business, and English. In an article by Maldonado that appeared in the student newspaper on February 13, 2014, entitled “Thank You Miami Dade College,” he “marveled at the differences between the two countries and the freedom of expression” in the U.S.

“Shock is what I felt when I learned that here you only need five students in order to form a group of some sort,” Maldonado wrote, “while in my country, the only group for the youth to join is the UJC, the Union of Young Communists, assuming they are not expelled from school, like San Miguel Molina, who got thrown out of medical school for having contrasting political views.” He left Miami in mid-2014. Juan Blanco, Executive Director at the Office of the President of Miami Dade College, later described Maldonado as “the kind of person that is very hard to not like [. . .] Very cooperative and willing to give a hand [to those] who need it. [He] felt committed to changing the Cuban system through his art.”

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