Posted: 04 Sep 2016 05:45 AM PDT
Cuba: Guillermo Fariñas Rejects U.S. Demand to End 40-Day-Old Hunger Strike
Cuban dissident activist Guillermo Fariñas has rejected a plea from the second-in-command at the U.S. embassy in Havana to cease his now 40-day-old hunger strike, asserting that the communist Castro government has clearly decided to no longer intervene and to allow him to die.
Guillermo Fariñas, who has refused both water and food for forty days, received Deputy Chief of Mission Scott Hamilton on Sunday, the 39th day of his strike. Fariñas told the American-based Cuban interest outlet Martí Noticias that Hamilton had asked him to cease his hunger strike before his health deteriorated further, but Fariñas refused.
“He told me that at the time he was the one in charge of the embassy because [Ambassador Jeffrey] DeLaurentis was not in, and that he had had direct conversations with the president of the United States and the Secretary of State,” Fariñas confirmed. He also confirmed that Hamilton had requested he end his hunger strike but that Fariñas had refused.
Hamilton’s visit appears to be a response to an open letter from the Cuban dissident community to President Barack Obama, asking him to interfere in the Fariñas case and use his newfound diplomatic capital with Havana to make Castro concede to abiding by international human rights norms, thus ending Fariñas’s strike.
Fariñas had said last October that he was considering a new hunger strike because the Castro regime had become increasingly violent against dissidents in light of President Obama’s “normalization” process, which has provided new income revenues for the Castro regime without demanding any changes to the nation’s abysmal human rights record.
Fariñas began this, his 24th hunger strike, in July as a response to being beaten and tortured for asking about the status of a fellow dissident at a local police station in Las Villas, central Cuba. He explained that he was hit and his tongue was pulled out until it became swollen and “black.” He said he feared those with less of a prominent international profile would suffer even more at the hands of Raúl Castro’s secret police. Fariñas won the Andrei Sakharov Prize for human rights activist from the European Union in 2010 and has toured the world denouncing communism.
Fariñas asserted at the beginning of his latest hunger strike that this would be his last one: he would either die in the attempt or end his hunger strike if Castro agreed to end the use of violence against political dissidents and officially introduce representatives for dissident thought into his government.
“The Cuban government has already given the order to let me die,” Fariñas told Martí Noticias, citing the fact that he had not been forced to stay in a hospital for his condition. The Cuban government has force-fed political prisoners in the past after altering their consciousness with drugs, a major human rights violation in the eyes of the United Nations. In Fariñas’s case, his family and fellow dissidents have taken him to their local hospital four times since he began the hunger strike, where doctors have hydrated him and sent him home.
Fariñas’s 23 previous hunger strikes have chronically damaged his health, making his ability to withstand yet another one significantly deteriorated. He has been diagnosed with metabolic acidosis — a condition in which the body’s pH levels are too low — and is suffering from intense body aches and headaches.