Derechos humanosPolítica

Opositor cubano Guillermo Fariñas abandona huelga de hambre después de 54 días

archivo_cuba_disidentesEl opositor cubano Guillermo Fariñas durante una rueda de prensa junto a otros tres opositores, el 9 de junio de 2016 en Madrid. Fariñas dejó el lunes 12 de septiembre de 2016, la huelga de hambre que mantenía desde hace 54 días. Chema Moya EFE 

Prominent Cuban opposition leader abandons long hunger strike

Cuban opposition leader Guillermo Fariñas ended his 54-day-old hunger strike Monday, following unconfirmed reports that the European Parliament approved a measure that links aid to the island to Cuban government compliance with his demands.

“We never thought this would become this important,” Fariñas said by phone from his home in Santa Clara, in central Cuba. “It’s an achievement, a victory. And the most important thing is that this hunger strike managed to bring together all of the [opposition] groups in and out of Cuba.”

“It’s an extremely important victory to halting the violence against the domestic opposition, one that cast a spotlight on the violence against the opposition, self-employed workers and citizens in general,” he told el Nuevo Herald.

Fariñas launched his hunger strike, after he was beaten up by State Security agents, to demand that the Raúl Castro government stop its violence and harassment of dissidents, other activists and self-employed workers and legally recognize the opposition.

According to a statement of a web page that claims to be from the Spanish information office of the European Parliament, the amendment was passed by a narrow margin and had strong opposition from parliamentarians of the Spanish party Izquierda Unida. But the embassies of Germany in Washington and Havana could not confirm the alleged vote. A spokeswoman for the European Union delegation in Washington could not confirm passage of the amendment and said a vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Cuban American National Foundation based in Miami, meanwhile, issued a statement in the afternoon warning that the information was false. A CANF spokeswoman told el Nuevo Herald that the organization contacted members of the European Parliament who denied passage of the amendment. According to the spokeswoman, parliamentarians said the amendment would likely be discussed in November.

A statement by the United Antitotalitarian Front, which Fariñas heads, said his hunger strike achieved even more than his initial demands. It adds that organization members asked Fariñas during a meeting Monday to halt the protest because of the European Parliament’s endorsement and his failing health.

Fariñas, who was rushed to the hospital several times during his hunger strike, said he felt “very poorly” but would try to recover in time to accept an invitation to attend a European Parliament session in late October or November. He said he also plans to speak to U.S. Congress members during the trip.

The European Parliament measure is sponsored by Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German member of the Commission on International Trade. If approved, it would signal a new challenge to long-standing negotiations toward an agreement between Cuba and the EU.

European Union and Cuban envoys have been negotiating since April of 2014 for a new agreement to replace the EU’s “Common Position,” which effectively cut off EU development aid to Cuba because of its human rights record.

The two sides have announced a preliminary agreement, but it requires the approval of all 28 EU members.

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