Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cuban Dissident Guillermo Fariñas Interviewed in Miami

Cuban Dissident Guillermo Fariñas Interviewed in Miami
May 22, 2013
Daniel García Marco

HAVANA TIMES — After the more than 20 hunger strikes that have seriously
undermined his health, Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas is still
determined to oppose Raul Castro's government through peaceful means and
wishes to send "a message of love" to his "oppressors", DPA reported.

"We always remember to send our oppressors a message of love. As a
peaceful protester, one must take the moral high-ground and avoid calls
for revenge," 51-year-old Fariñas stated during an interview with DPA in
Miami, the capital of Cuban exiles.

Fariñas is the latest renowned Cuban dissident to have traveled outside
of Cuba, availing himself of the migratory reforms that came into effect
this January.

The dissident will go on a tour not too dissimilar from that made by
blogger Yoani Sanchez, to claim a Sakharov Award in Brussels, granted
him in acknowledgement of his defense of human rights and civil liberties.

Fariñas, known for the hunger strikes with which he has sought to bring
pressures on the Cuban government to secure the release of political
prisoners, has no faith in Raul Castro and believes his reforms are mere
"cosmetic" changes.

DPA: Do you think things are truly changing in Cuba, that something new
is coming?

Fariñas: Something new is coming, but nothing is truly changing.
Democracy is what's coming. They're going to try and install a democracy
in the style of Byelorussia, the Ukraine, or Russia, where those who
were in power in the days of totalitarianism can maintain their
totalitarian hold on society under the banner of democracy. We have to
bring pressure to bear on the government, as Cubans, as exiles, as
defenders of democracy, no matter what part of the world we're in, so
that that doesn't happen, so that the people are the ones who decide
their fate.

DPA: Do you feel that Cuba's migratory reform, the fact all of you are
traveling outside Cuba and denouncing the actions of its government, is
having effects contrary to what they wanted?

Fariñas: No, they knew they couldn't impose conditions on us, they know
us well. They're trying to clean up their act. They knew this was going
to happen. They want to coax the European Union and North America into
making more substantial investments in Cuba and granting them credit
that will pull them out of bankruptcy.

DPA: There are different opinions about the US embargo among members of
the opposition. What is yours? Should it be lifted or maintained?

Fariñas: The embargo is a policy that causes suffering among the Cuban
people, but the Cuban government's posture causes even more suffering
among the people. Before we discuss the embargo, which is an issue that
divides Cuba's peaceful opposition, we have to talk about the embargo
that the Cuban government has imposed on its own citizens.

DPA: How do you imagine that the fall of Cuba's current government and a
transition might come about?

Fariñas: That' impossible to predict. There are many different power
groups, many different interests within Cuba. Supporters of Fidel are
gradually being displaced from power and supporters of Raul are gaining
more and more ground. As a non-violent opposition, we must try to bring
about change through peaceful means. We're going to return to Cuba so
that change comes about without violence. This is what we call for.

DPA: Do think change will come in the same way the Berlin Wall and
Communism fell in Europe, almost abruptly?

Fariñas: Let's hope so. We hope it will come as it did in Germany, in
Czechoslovakia. We don't want it to be like it was in Rumania.

DPA: Would you accept a transition led by the Cuban government?

Fariñas: If not the government, then the people of Cuba will lead it.
Every time I am questioned by State Security officers, I tell them that
they are the ones who have to take the first step, that they are the
ones who have the power, the weapons. But we mustn't forget to send our
oppressors a message of love. As a peaceful protester, one must take the
moral high-ground and avoid calls for revenge. There is a place for
communists and supporters of the Castros in the Cuba to come.

dpa: Why did you choose the hunger strike as your method of protest?

Fariñas: When I decided to oppose the government publicly, I began to
look for the strengths and weaknesses of the regime. Until that moment,
hunger strikes had been used as a means of protest only in prisons. I
took them out to the street. These strikes draw public attention to our
cause. You have to make a concrete demand. During my last hunger strike,
I asked for the release of 26 political prisoners. What's significant
about the hunger strike is that your life is in the State's hands. You
arrive at an intensive care ward, place the ball in the adversary's
court, because those doctors are part of the State. It is the State that
decides whether to keep me alive or not. If I die, I die because of the

dpa: How are you able to endure these hunger strikes?

Fariñas: With a lot of willpower. The greatest strength you can rely on
in this world is to believe that your ideals will prevail. No one can
crush that.

dpa: What are Cuban prisons like?

Fariñas: I'll sum it up for you with one phrase: they are graveyards for
the living.

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