Cuba - dissident interview

Hunger striker Farinas will hang on until the end

Guillermo Fariñas, 48, spoke exclusively to RFI from his home in Cuba, where he is on hunger strike
Guillermo Fariñas, 48, spoke exclusively to RFI from his home in Cuba, where he is on hunger strike Reuters

After the death last month of hunger striking Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, two opponents of the Castro regime have declared a hunger strike themselves. Guillermo Farinas, 48, a psychologist and independent journalist, spoke to RFI exclusively saying he will fast until death, if necessary.

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"Right now I have a lot of pain in my head and in my eyes, I have backpain and abdominal problems," Farinas told RFI's Latin American service.

For the past seven days, Farinas, who was among 75 dissidents arrested in 2003, has refused both food and water. He is no stranger to hunger striking - he has done this 23 times before, the last time in 2006, when he fought to allow Cubans free access to the internet.

Farinas said that this time he is not afraid to pay the final consequences, to become a martyr if necessary. His doctors say he is in a very "fragile" state of health, and both they and his family have asked him to abandon his fast.

Farinas, speaking from his home in Placetas, the central region of Villa Clara, had already spent 11 years in prison after being arrested in 1989. He is currently under house arrest.

"I want to tell [President] Raul Castro that, although he expressed regret in front of the international press for the death of a Cuban political prisoner, there are still 26 political prisoners who risk dying as well because the Cuban medical corps recommends that they be fed intravenously," Farinas told RFI.

"We do not ask to take over power, nor that the Communist Party stop being the authoritarian head of Cuba. We are only asking for something simple and logical. If you let me die, I want the world to know that what happened to Zapata Tamayo was not an isolated incident, nor was it something that happened by accident," he said.

"Since 1959 the opposition and political prisoners have been tortured and driven to their deaths in prisons and Cuban hospitals," said Farinas.
 

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