Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Deteriorating health of Cuban dissident on hunger strike worries international observers

    Deteriorating health of Cuban dissident on hunger strike worries
    international observers
    By Elizabeth Llorente Published August 16, 2016Fox News Latino

    Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas is on the fourth week of a hunger
    strike, and his health continues to deteriorate, his mother told Fox
    News Latino in a telephone interview from Cuba.

    Fariñas started his hunger strike in July, he told FNL last week, after
    he was beaten by Cuban police for inquiring about another dissident.
    Fariñas said that his condition for ending the hunger strike is that
    Cuban government stop beating dissidents who peacefully demonstrate for
    human rights.

    The U.S. government, the Vatican, political leaders from around the
    world and Cuba policy groups have been monitoring Fariñas’ condition,
    well aware that a turn for the worse as far as his health could have
    far-reaching ramifications for the still-fragile restoration of
    diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

    The 54-year-old has lost about 30 lbs. and has low blood pressure, a
    slow pulse and reduced heart rate, according to his mother, Alicia
    Hernandez Cabeza, who is a nurse. Others who have visited the dissident
    have also described a decline in his condition.

    “He needs help to get out of bed, he is extremely weak,” Hernandez
    Cabeza said Tuesday. “The injuries from the beating the police here put
    him through are slowly healing, but he is dehydrated and has muscle
    fatigue and is barely awake.”

    Fariñas, who has won numerous international human rights awards and has
    met with President Barack Obama at least twice to discuss the lack of
    personal freedoms in Cuba, has been hospitalized twice since he began
    the hunger strike.

    “For a mother, there is no comparison to seeing a son or daughter
    suffer, to see them in this condition,” Hernandez Cabeza said. “I am by
    his side until midnight or 1 a.m. every night. I come home and then the
    next day, early in the morning, I am back at his side.”

    “I pray to the saints for my son,” she said. “There is no talking him
    out of going on a hunger strike or fighting for liberty and human
    rights. When he started the hunger strike, it upset him greatly when
    people told him to stop for his health. I see that he gets very
    agitated, and I don’t want his health worsening because of the stress.”

    Fariñas – a dissident who has gone on about two dozen hunger strikes,
    barely surviving some of them – has served a total of about 11 years as
    a political prisoner in Cuban jails.

    In recent weeks, representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, the
    Vatican, as well as others, have visited Fariñas.

    Fariñas has been a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s move to
    restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, saying that President Raúl
    Castro has not ended the repression on the island. Fariñas says the
    harassment of dissidents continues unabated.

    He called Obama’s decision to restore relations with Cuba a betrayal of
    a promise the president made to him and other dissidents that held that
    there would be no change in U.S.-Cuba policy without their input and
    consent.

    “He seems very serious about taking this to the end,” Sebastian A.
    Arcos, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida
    International University, told FNL. “The human implication of someone of
    the value of Fariñas dying is very dramatic. He represents so much of
    the new Cuba that many there want to build, which is not the one
    [President] Raúl Castro is building.”

    “Politically speaking, if he dies as a result of this hunger strike,
    it’s going to essentially put the entire process of the normalization of
    diplomatic relations into question,” Arcos said. “It’s going to put into
    question the entire idea that the way for democratic nations to deal
    with Cuba is diplomacy and that it will force a change in the nature of
    the Cuban regime.”

    Obama wants the decades-long trade embargo against Cuba to be lifted,
    but many in Congress, which Republicans control, are opposed to removing
    it until Castro takes steps toward implementing democratic changes,
    including allowing freedom of speech and holding legitimate elections.

    While some significant economic reforms have taken hold in recent months
    – such as the ability of many Cubans to start businesses, and the
    ability of dissidents such as Fariñas to travel outside Cuba – the
    Castro government has staunchly resisted giving its citizens many basic
    freedoms.

    Elizabeth Llorente is the Politics Editor/Senior Reporter for Fox News
    Latino, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnewslatino.com.
    Follow her on twitter.com/Liz_Llorente

    Source: Deteriorating health of Cuban dissident on hunger strike worries
    international observers | Fox News Latino –
    latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2016/08/16/deteriorating-health-cuban-dissident-on-hunger-strike-worries-international/

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