Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Cuban emigrants declare a hunger strike in Panama

    Cuban emigrants declare a hunger strike in Panama
    JUAN ARTURO GÓMEZ TOBÓN | Turbo | 31 de Enero de 2017 – 11:13 CET.

    A group of six Cuban emigrants, including several identifying themselves
    as members of the Movimiento Prodemocrático Pedro Luis Boitel, declared
    themselves on a hunger strike in the locality of Laja Blanca,
    Darien (Panama)

    Another group of 13 men and five women launched a similar protest at a
    shelter for undocumented émigrés, at which they claim they are
    prisoners, according to a video distributed via the Internet.

    One of the six Cubans from Laja Blanca, Arnaldo Pérez Aguilar, said that
    he made the decision to leave Cuba due to persecution by the regime. He
    added that he joined the hunger strike due to persistent abuse by the
    Panamanian authorities, deportations to Colombia by means of deceit, and
    other violations of his rights by the National Borders Service
    (SENAFRONT) of the Central American country.

    “We have resorted to this for our freedom, because we cannot return to
    Cuba,” said Pérez Aguilar.

    Those detained in Laja Blanca stated that the facility where they are
    being held is not a shelter, as the authorities contend, but rather a
    prison, where counts are conducted. They stated that their passports
    have been confiscated and, under the pretense that they will be
    transferred to Panama City, the Panamanian military takes them back to
    the Colombian border.

    “They are putting us on trucks and releasing us in the middle of the
    jungle,” said Andy Mora, another member of the group.

    “They ditch us there without any food or water. They could care less if
    anyone is injured or sick. We are searching for our freedom. We want to
    keep going. We don´t want to stay in Panama,” José Alberto Llanes
    Rodríguez told DIARIO DE CUBA, also identifying himself as a firm
    opponent of the regime.

    “A hunt of Cubans”

    “A genuine hunt has been unleashed by Panamanian border agents against
    Cuban emigrants. They deport only our people, letting those from other
    countries continue,” complained Danilo Páez Cárdenas, age 32, in the
    Colombian town of Sapzurro.

    On both last days dozens of Cubans were abandoned in the jungle-covered
    mountains between Colombia and Panama. Informed to “go back where you
    came from, we don’t want you here in Panama,” armed Panamanian military
    force Cubans to return to Colombia, without any kind of deportation
    proceedings with the Colombian authorities.

    The Cubans, by their own means and crossing a jungle teeming with
    guerrillas and bands of drug traffickers, were able to reach Sapzurro, a
    small fishing village.

    On the nights of 27 and 28 January, 84 Cuban citizens were deported
    there from Panama. The community welcomed them with humanitarian aid,
    providing them with shelter and food.

    “Some arrived ill, or with their feet sore and wounded, and were
    attended to by the only nurse in the town. One arrived with a knife cut
    in the veins of his hands, which required suturing. The people of
    Sapzurro have even taken them into their houses. Our community stands in
    solidarity with them, offering aid to whomever needs it, regardless of
    their nationality, race or religious creed. Our elders have taught us to
    show solidarity. If this keeps up we won´t have the capacity to handle
    it,” local police inspector José Escobar told DIARIO DE CUBA.

    Escobar confirmed that the deportations were carried out without any
    proceedings between the authorities of the two countries.

    Among the deportees was Roberto Rojas, who tried twice to leave Cuba by
    raft, but was intercepted by border authorities on both occasions. His
    last attempt was in 2006. He spent four years in jail.

    Rojas said that when he realized that the Panamanian authorities were
    putting him on a plane, he tried to commit suicide by cutting his veins.
    “The guards were deaf to my pleas. I told them that if they were sending
    me back to Cuba, I’d rather die. In a moment of despair I cut my arms,
    so they just put me in the plane, without any medical attention,” he said.

    “Thank God, here they immediately took me to a health center, where a
    nurse attended to me and gave me stitches,” he added.

    Roberto Rojas said that among the Cubans deported from Laja Blanca some
    have returned to the jungle. Others, who had money, headed for Turbo,
    Colombia, where they will look for a way to reach Panama via the Pacific
    Ocean. Only two have decided to return to Cuba.

    “I don’t know what to do anymore. There are thousands of Cubans like me
    scattered all across South and Central America,” said Rojas.

    Source: Cuban emigrants declare a hunger strike in Panama | Diario de
    Cuba – www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1485857623_28554.html

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