HAVANA – Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, who completed 60 days of his
hunger strike on Saturday, called the local elections to be held Sunday
on the island "a big farce," and said that he will vote against "the
Castro dynasty" if he is sent a ballot.
"There's no such thing as a free nomination. It has to be in your
neighborhood with a show of hands (an allusion to the way candidates are
designated), and nobody wants to be identified to this regime of
terror," said Fariñas in a telephone conversation from the intensive
care unit where he is hospitalized in the central city of Santa Clara.
The dissident recalled that Cuban electoral regulations state that
ballots must be sent to sick people who are lucid, and said he was
waiting to see what decision state security will take in his case.
"If they bring me a ballot, what I'll do is put: Down with the dynasty
of the Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul), my signature and my ID number,"
said Fariñas, who was admitted to hospital in mid-March after twice
collapsing from hunger.
"If they don't dare bring it to me, I'll just be one more of those who
didn't go to vote," he said.
In Sunday's voting, some 8.4 million Cubans over 16 years of age are
eligible to vote for more than 15,000 delegates (councilors) of the
island's 169 municipal assemblies, in a process that is repeated every
About his health, Fariñas said that upon completing two months of
fasting he feels "a little down, with headaches and joint pain," but
said that he will continue "the hunger strike to the last consequences."
"I think that with what is going on, we can't do anything but keep up
the hunger strike," he said, adding that "without doing anything
violent" he has managed to do "harm to the government."
"In these 60 days a phenomenon has taken place that we didn't really
expect, which is that international public opinion is once more studying
and evaluating what is happening with human rights and inside jails in
Cuba," he said.
The psychologist and journalist, 48, began his hunger strike in his home
last Feb. 24 after the death of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo
following an 85-day fast demanding that Cuba's president, Gen. Raul
Castro, release 26 ailing members of the opposition.
Fariñas said international reaction has included "political groups of
the left," which in his opinion has caused "tremendous grief to the
"I believe this is also a victory for the entire Cuban opposition and
for Cubans in exile," he said.
Earlier this week, Archbishop of Havana Jaime Ortega argued in favor of
a more "conciliatory attitude" by Fariñas, whom he urged to end his protest.
"Now is not the time to incite passions," Ortega said, adding that what
is also "painful" are the mobs insulting the mothers and wives of
several prisoners, especially the Ladies in White, who in the last few
weeks have been repeatedly harassed by supporters of President Raul
Cuba is "in a difficult situation, certainly the most difficult" that it
has experienced in the 21st century, Ortega said, citing the global
economic crisis, the losses caused by three hurricanes in recent years
and the U.S. trade embargo.
These problems "come on top of Cuba's perennial economic difficulties
caused by the limitations of the kind of socialism practiced here and
that at times give us a very gloomy outlook," Ortega said.