Posted on Tuesday, 03.09.10
Cuba takes tough stance on hunger striker Guillermo Fariñas
Cuban authorities indicated Monday that they had no plans to force-feed
hunger striker Guillermo Fariñas.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Cuba's Granma newspaper Monday indicated that dissident Guillermo
Fariñas will be allowed to die if he continues on his hunger strike,
saying it would be unethical to force-feed him and that the government
“will not accept pressures or blackmails.''
The article amounts to “my death sentence,'' Fariñas said, adding that
Cuban authorities are “preparing public opinion for my death,'' and
will be “responsible for whatever way my hunger strike ends.''
A Spanish diplomat who visited him Monday told him Cuba was willing to
let him leave for Madrid, an offer that he refused, Fariñas said by
phone from his home in Santa Clara, 175 miles east of Havana.
Cuba's tough posture came as Fariñas, 48, a psychologist and dissident
journalist, went without food and liquids for a 13th day to demand the
freedom of 26 political prisoners he says are in ill health.
Fariñas, who launched his protest one day after political prisoner
Orlando Zapata Tamayo died following an 83-day hunger strike, and passed
out for about 2 ½ hours last week, said he would continue his fast
“until the final consequence.''
Granma's article marked a rare mention of a dissident by the
government-controlled news media.
“There are bio-ethical principles that require a physician to respect a
person's decision to start a hunger strike,'' Granma said. “Therefore,
there's no way he can be forced to take food, as U.S. authorities do
regularly at the prisons and torture centers in Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib
“Doctors can only act when the patient has gone into shock, a stage at
which this is usually too late . . . what is called the point of no
return,'' it said, adding that Fariñas already is experiencing a
“process of notable deterioration.''
“In this case, it's not the medical field that should resolve a problem
intentionally created with the goal of discrediting our political
system, but [Fariñas] himself and those traitors, foreign diplomats and
news media that are manipulating him,'' Granma added.
Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez, who has urged Fariñas to
end his hunger strike, said it's the government's responsibility “to
immediately offer him institutional medical care, as it should have done
and did not do with Zapata.''
U.S. authorities at the Guantánamo prison for terror suspects have
force-fed a number of detainees who staged hunger strikes to protest
their treatment, despite complaints from human rights groups.
Fariñas' hunger strike and Zapata's death triggered an avalanche of
foreign condemnations of Cuba's human rights record and dealt a blow to
U.S. and European politicians' push for improved relations with Cuban
leader Raúl Castro's government.
“You can see with [the Obama administration] being soft on Cuba has
done nothing to improve the situation in Cuba,'' Florida Republican Sen.
George LeMieux told The Miami Herald's Editorial Board on Monday, citing
the Zapata case and Cuba's detention of a U.S. government subcontractor
in Havana for the past three months, without charges.
Cuba takes tough stance on hunger striker Guillermo Fariñas – Cuba –
MiamiHerald.com (9 March 2010)