Monday, September 17, 2012

Cuban dissidents: We're "very weak" on 6th day of hunger strike

Cuban dissidents: We're "very weak" on 6th day of hunger strike
Published September 16, 2012

The Cuban dissidents who launched a collective hunger strike six days
ago to demand the release of an imprisoned colleague said Sunday that
they felt "very weak," but they insisted that they would continue with
their protest.

Rosa Maria Naranjo, one of the five people who joined the hunger strike
led by dissident economist Marta Beatriz Roque, in Havana, told Efe on
Sunday that she and her fellow strikers felt "very weak" and some of
them "are going downhill," but adding that "we will continue until there
is a response" from the Cuban government to their demand.

The opposition members involved in the group protest are demanding that
Cuban authorities release political prisoner Jorge Vazquez Chaviano,
whom they say has already completed his sentence and should have been
set free on Sept. 9 in the central province of Villa Clara, and also to
denounce the "difficult" situation in which they say the communist
island's internal dissident movement finds itself.

Roque, a former prisoner from the "Group of 75," began her hunger strike
last Monday, Sept. 10, at her home and some 20 opposition members, some
of them imprisoned, followed her lead elsewhere around the country,
including in the provinces of Havana, Villa Clara, Placetas, Ciego de
Avila, Camaguey, Manzanillo, Santiago de Cuba and Holguin, according to
a tally made by her assistant Idania Yanes.

Regarding the health condition of the 67-year-old Roque, who is diabetic
and has high blood pressure, Yanes said that "she's very bad off, each
day she deteriorates more. She's cold, sweaty and her hands are trembling."

Yanes said that other hunger strikers are in similar shape, including
Jorge Luis Garcia, known as "Antunez," Alberto Reyes, a diabetic who is
dependent on insulin, and Luis Enrique Santos, all of whom are at their
homes in Villa Clara province.

Yanes also said that Vazquez Chaviano's family members said that he had
been transferred from the jail in the town of Manacas to "Guamajal"
prison in Santa Clara and that the authorities had told them that "they
are considering letting (us) see him in the middle of next week."

She also said that Roque last Saturday received a visit from the parish
priest of the San Juan Bosco church, which she attends.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Ladies in White dissident movement, Berta
Soler, said that the women in her group are "very concerned" about the
hunger strikers and have asked them to "desist because we need those men
and women to stay alive."

"We respect any person who goes on a hunger strike. That method of
struggle is not ours. We're women who are never going to do it, and
although we disapprove of it, we're going to give them all the moral and
spiritual support we can," Soler emphasized.

Also, she said that "on Saturday I spoke quite a bit with Marta (Beatriz
Roque). I asked her to end the strike, (and I said) that if she halted
it also the others (should do so), that this wasn't giving in, it was
being reasonable and preserving (her) life, that I needed her and the
Cuban people also."

Over the past few years, hunger strikes have become an
anti-establishment tactic that has been used frequently in Cuba, above
all after cases like that of Guillermo Fariñas, who holds the record
with 24 hunger strikes, his most recent one in June 2011. EFE

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