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Human rights group condemns government threats against Cuban rock band leader

MIAMI - SEPTEMBER 18:  Cuban punk rock musician Gorki Aguila, lead singer of the band "Porno Para Ricardo", which has been banned from public performances in Cuba and from the island's public airwaves, speaks during a press conference on September 18, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Aguila who now lives in Mexico, was in Miami to promote the release of his band's fifth album and came as the controversy continues around Miami resident and Colombian rock star Juanes planned "Peace Without Borders", concert in Havana, Cuba on Sunday.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI - SEPTEMBER 18: Cuban punk rock musician Gorki Aguila, lead singer of the band "Porno Para Ricardo", which has been banned from public performances in Cuba and from the island's public airwaves, speaks during a press conference on September 18, 2009 in Miami, Florida. Aguila who now lives in Mexico, was in Miami to promote the release of his band's fifth album and came as the controversy continues around Miami resident and Colombian rock star Juanes planned "Peace Without Borders", concert in Havana, Cuba on Sunday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2009 Getty Images)

A well-known singer in Cuba who is critical of the government has been jailed twice the past year and has been subjected to constant threats, according to a human rights group.

Gorki Aguila, a human rights activist and lead singer of the anti-dictatorship rock band Porno para Ricardo, was arrested in early August, according to reports from Havana.

While he was released hours later, Cuban officials allegedly warned him that if he continued to support The Ladies in White, one of the most prominent dissident groups in Cuba, he would not be allowed to leave the country.  It is a crime in Cuba to engage in counterrevolutionary activities and those who are accused of inciting people against the government could be thrown in jail.

Aguila, 46, told 14tmedia.com that an official told him that anyone who invites him to visit another country “will have to come pick you up in motor boat,” according to Billboard.

The Ladies in White, or Las Damas de Blanco, was founded by the wives, sisters, mothers and daughters of political prisoners arrested during Fidel Castro’s “Black Spring” crackdown in 2003.

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Aguila, whose rock band has performed in Miami, New York and other U.S. cities as well as Spain and Latin America, was also arrested in May after calling for the release of Cuban graffiti artist Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado, who has been imprisoned since December.

On Thursday, the Human Rights Foundation condemned the threats made against Aguila.

“Both of these artists excel at irreverent criticism, which is why they are frequent targets of a tyrannical and humorless regime that has muzzled Cuban artists for 56 years,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “In totalitarian Cuba, the freedom of expression of artists is curtailed by article 39 of the constitution, which states that ‘artistic creativity is free as long as its content is not contrary to the Revolution.”

According to Billboard, Aguila dedicated the recording of a new song to the Ladies in White, telling the women he wanted to “incite other artists to do songs, poems, other works so that what you do, that is something so poetic so beautiful, will also be reflected in art.”

Porno Para Ricardo also recorded a song for Maldonado, who was jailed for putting on a performance featuring two pigs named Raul and Fidel last December. In July, Maldonado was awarded the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissidence.

Since their formation in 1998, Porno Para Ricardo has been known to blatantly speaking out against the Cuban government.

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