Guillermo Fariñas

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Guillermo Fariñas
Guillermo Fariñas 2014.jpg
Born (1962-01-03) 3 January 1962 (age 52)
Santa Clara, Cuba
Nationality Cuban
Occupation journalist
Known for hunger strike, dissident journalism
Awards Sakharov Prize (2010)

Guillermo Fariñas Hernández (born 3 January 1962) ("El Coco") is a Cuban doctor of psychology,[1] independent journalist[2] and political dissident in Cuba. He has conducted 23 hunger strikes over the years to protest various elements of the Cuban regime.[3] He has stated that he is ready to die in the struggle against censorship in Cuba.[2]

Early life[edit]

Fariñas was born in Santa Clara. He won medals in 1981 while a Cuban soldier in Angola, when he fought under Colonel Antonio Enrique Luzon, and he was wounded in battle during the war. In 1982 Fariñas went to the U.S.S.R. to Tambov for military education. In 1993 he was elected in Cuba, as the General Secretary of Healthcare Union Workers. In 1995 he was sent to jail after attacking a woman, an official from the health institution where he worked as a psychologist.[4] In an 2007 interview with Harper's magazine ("The Battle of Ideas") Fariñas described State Security officers detaining him in Santa Clara, forcibly committing him to a psychiatric hospital ward overnight, and supervising his injection with unknown drugs.

Fariñas's father was also part of the Cuban military forces, and fought in the Congo under Che Guevara in the 1960s.

2006 hunger strike[edit]

In 2006, Fariñas held a seven-month hunger strike to protest against the Internet censorship in Cuba. He ended it in Autumn 2006, due to severe health problems.[2] His acts received worldwide attention and Reporters Without Borders awarded its cyber-freedom prize to Guillermo Fariñas in 2006.[5] He also received the International Human Rights Award at Weimar.[6]

2010 hunger strike[edit]

On February 26, 2010, Fariñas declared yet another hunger strike to protest the death of fellow dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo. He has indicated that he will remain on strike until twenty-six other prisoners of conscience who are seriously ill are set free.[3]

Cuban government response[edit]

"Cuba will not accept pressure or blackmail, important Western media groups are again calling attention to a prefabricated lie. It is not medicine that should resolve a problem that was created intentionally to discredit our political system -- but rather the patient himself, unpatriotic people, foreign diplomats and the media that manipulates him. The consequences will be their responsibility, and theirs alone."

Granma, March 8, 2010 [7]

The Cuban state newspaper Granma stated that Fariñas's legal troubles began "because of a physical altercation with a female co-worker - not politics" and described him as "a paid agent of the United States" and employee of the U.S. Interests Section.[7]

On July 8, 2010, Fariñas ended his 134-day hunger strike Thursday, following signs the communist government is making good on its promise to release 52 political prisoners.

2010 Sakharov Prize[edit]

On 20 October 2010 Fariñas was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.[8] In presenting the award the parliament commended Fariñas saying that he was a "symbol of the fight for freedom of speech".[9] This marks the third time that the award has been made to Cuban dissidents.[8]

In December 2010 the Cuban government denied Fariñas an exit visa necessary to travel to Strasbourg to accept the award. In response the European Parliament said that it would have an empty chair to represent him at the ceremony. Fariñas said, "I believe that the Cuban government has shown over the years that it is behaving in an arrogant manner."[10]

2011 hunger strike[edit]

On 3 June 2011, Fariñas declared his latest hunger strike to protest the Cuban authorities' response to fellow dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto García's death. Fariñas called for those responsible for the reported police beating three days before Soto died in a Santa Clara hospital to be brought to justice. He also demanded for the Cuban government to stop using violent means in its approach to non-violent opposition.[11]

2012 detention[edit]

On 24 July 2012, he was one of dozens of activists arrested in Havana at the funeral of dissident Oswaldo Payá.[12] Amnesty International and the U.S. criticized the arrests, with the White House describing them as "a stark demonstration of the climate of repression in Cuba."[13] The dissidents were freed the following day.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Psychologist and independent journalist Guillermo Fariñas transferred to new unit.". Net for Cuba. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "Guillermo Fariñas ends seven-month-old hunger strike for Internet access". Reporters Without Borders. 1 September 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Estaban Israel (29 March 2010). "Cuban hunger striker rejects Spanish offer". Reuters. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba (2010-03-09). "Cuba: neither Pressure nor Blackmail / Media campaign on hunger strike of a counterrevolutionary". Granma. Communist Party of Cuba. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  5. ^ "Cyber-freedom prize for 2006 awarded to Guillermo Fariñas of Cuba". Reporters Without Borders. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "IGFM dankt Weimar: "Der Menschenrechtspreis für Dr. Fariñas Hernández ist das richtige Signal an Castro"". igfm.de. July 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Cuba blasts the foreign press for coverage of dissident hunger strike by Paul Haven, Associated Press, March 8, 2010
  8. ^ a b "Cuba dissident Farinas awarded Sakharov Prize by EU". BBC News. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Andreas Illmer and David Levitz (21 October 2010). "EU awards Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas top human rights prize". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Cuba refuses dissident exit visa". Al Jazeera. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Cuban dissident on hunger strike to protest death". Google News. Agence France-Presse. 3 June 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "Cuba: Dozens arrested at funeral of prominent rights activist". Amnesty International. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "US, Amnesty Critical of Cuban Dissident Detentions". ABC News. Associated Press. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  14. ^ "Police free Cubans detained at Oswaldo Paya's funeral". BBC News. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.