Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Prominent Cuban opposition leader abandons long hunger strike

Prominent Cuban opposition leader abandons long hunger strike
Cuban opposition leader Guillermo Fariñas abandons 54-day hunger strike.

Cuban opposition leader Guillermo Fariñas ended his 54-day-old hunger
strike Monday, following unconfirmed reports that the European
Parliament approved a measure that links aid to the island to Cuban
government compliance with his demands.

"We never thought this would become this important," Fariñas said by
phone from his home in Santa Clara, in central Cuba. "It's an
achievement, a victory. And the most important thing is that this hunger
strike managed to bring together all of the [opposition] groups in and
out of Cuba."

"It's an extremely important victory to halting the violence against the
domestic opposition, one that cast a spotlight on the violence against
the opposition, self-employed workers and citizens in general," he told
el Nuevo Herald.

Fariñas launched his hunger strike, after he was beaten up by State
Security agents, to demand that the Raúl Castro government stop its
violence and harassment of dissidents, other activists and self-employed
workers and legally recognize the opposition.

According to a statement of a web page that claims to be from the
Spanish information office of the European Parliament, the amendment was
passed by a narrow margin and had strong opposition from
parliamentarians of the Spanish party Izquierda Unida. But the embassies
of Germany in Washington and Havana could not confirm the alleged vote.
A spokeswoman for the European Union delegation in Washington could not
confirm passage of the amendment and said a vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Cuban American National Foundation based in Miami, meanwhile, issued
a statement in the afternoon warning that the information was false. A
CANF spokeswoman told el Nuevo Herald that the organization contacted
members of the European Parliament who denied passage of the amendment.
According to the spokeswoman, parliamentarians said the amendment would
likely be discussed in November.

A statement by the United Antitotalitarian Front, which Fariñas heads,
said his hunger strike achieved even more than his initial demands. It
adds that organization members asked Fariñas during a meeting Monday to
halt the protest because of the European Parliament's endorsement and
his failing health.

Fariñas, who was rushed to the hospital several times during his hunger
strike, said he felt "very poorly" but would try to recover in time to
accept an invitation to attend a European Parliament session in late
October or November. He said he also plans to speak to U.S. Congress
members during the trip.

The European Parliament measure is sponsored by Alexander Graf
Lambsdorff, a German member of the Commission on International Trade. If
approved, it would signal a new challenge to long-standing negotiations
toward an agreement between Cuba and the EU.

European Union and Cuban envoys have been negotiating since April of
2014 for a new agreement to replace the EU's "Common Position," which
effectively cut off EU development aid to Cuba because of its human
rights record.

The two sides have announced a preliminary agreement, but it requires
the approval of all 28 EU members.

Source: Guillermo Fariñas abandons lengthy hunger strike | In Cuba Today
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