Cuban hunger striker in hospital after passing out
A Cuban hunger striker was receiving fluids and medical care in a government hospital Friday, a day after passing out at home, and has refused requests by other dissidents and religious leaders to abandon his protest. Guillermo Farinas was
A Cuban hunger striker was receiving fluids and medical care in a government hospital Friday, a day after passing out at home, and has refused requests by other dissidents and religious leaders to abandon his protest.
Guillermo Farinas was taken to a hospital in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara on Thursday. It was the second time he has lost consciousness — and received fluids and nutrients intravenously — since launching his hunger strike on Feb. 24.
"He is in stable condition. They are hydrating him and giving him medicine," spokeswoman Licet Zamora told The Associated Press.
Zamora said well-known Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez; her husband, Reinaldo Escobar; and others visited Farinas at the hospital Thursday, on a mission to persuade him to give up the protest. They were unable to see him because he was in intensive care. Roman Catholic leaders have also called on him to abandon his strike, but Farinas has refused.
Ismeli Iglesias, a dissident doctor who is helping treat Farinas, said that the hospital's intervention meant his life was no longer in danger. But Iglesias warned that Farinas' immune system was weak and complications could emerge. He said Farinas could survive for months if his family continues to take him to the hospital each time he loses consciousness.
Farinas is demanding the release of 26 ailing political prisoners. The government has said it would not give in to "pressure or blackmail." It has placed responsibility for Farinas' life squarely in the hands of foreign diplomats and the international news media, which it says are manipulating him as part of a campaign against Cuba's communist government.
Cuba considers the dissidents to be common criminals paid by Washington to undermine the government.
On Thursday, the European Parliament condemned Cuba for what it called the "avoidable and cruel" death of another dissident hunger striker, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died Feb. 23 after an 83-day hunger strike. The European assembly said it was also alarmed by Farinas' case, and called on Cuba to ensure his safety.
Cuba's own parliament denounced the EU decision, decrying it on Thursday as hypocritical and offensive, and insisting it was made after a "sullied debate."
Cuba kept up the angry rhetoric on Friday, with a long article in the Communist Party daily Granma titled: "European Parliament allies itself with the Anti-Cuban campaign."
The article accuses Europe of colonialism, and says the resolution — passed by a 509-30 vote — was orchestrated by reactionary right-wing parties. It said the vote was part of a long and nefarious campaign against Cuba.
"It is a shame that such an institution dedicates itself to articulating conspiracies and propping up mercenaries and criminals," the article said.
In Brazil, the daughter of legendary Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara called hunger striking dissidents in Cuba common criminals.
In remarks after a university lecture in northeastern Brazil, Aleida Guevara said that deceased dissident Zapata had economic gain in mind and that Farinas is serving the U.S., said philosophy professor Joao Carlos Salles, who attended the lecture.
"She said he (Zapata) was a common criminal who went on a hunger strike not to demand freedom but to demand a television set, a telephone and a kitchen," Salles said Friday.