News and Facts about Cuba

Prominent Cuban dissident detained

Prominent Cuban detained
Published November 02, 2011

Havana – Cuban government opponent Guillermo Fariñas was detained in
the central city of Santa Clara while trying to visit a hunger-striking
dissident at a , his family and pro-democracy activists said.

"Guillermo went to pay a visit to Alcides (Rivera) at the hospital and
they don't want anyone there. The (hospital guards) didn't let him in.
They immobilized him, beat him and called the , who took him to a
(police unit)," Fariñas' mother, Alicia Hernandez, told Efe Tuesday.

She said she learned of her son's arrest thanks to an "eyewitness."

Another 18 dissidents who went to the Arnaldo Milian Castro Provincial
Hospital Monday to check on Rivera's were not allowed inside the
facility and were detained, although apparently some were released
Tuesday, Hernandez said.

Rivera went on hunger strike on Sept. 28 to demand an end to government
repression of dissent, activist Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the
but tolerated Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National
Reconciliation, said.

Fariñas was detained at approximately 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, Sanchez said,
adding that he believes it will be a typical short-lived stay in police
lockup of a few hours.

Winner of the European Parliament's 2010 Sakharov Prize for of
Thought, Fariñas has been detained briefly on numerous occasions this
year, most recently in mid-September amid a wave of arrests of
dissidents in his home city of Santa Clara and other towns of central Cuba.

The psychologist and has staged two dozen hunger
strikes since the 1990s to call for a free press, access to the Internet
and the release of imprisoned dissidents, among other demands.

Last year, he went on a four-and-a-half-month fast to demand the release
of political prisoners following the death of Orlando , who passed
away on Feb. 23, 2010, after a lengthy hunger strike behind bars to
force the Cuban government to acknowledge his designation by Amnesty
International as a of conscience.

The international outcry over Zapata's death prompted the Cuban
government to launch a Spanish-backed dialogue last year with the Cuban
Catholic hierarchy that led to the release of more than 100 political
prisoners, including dozens of dissidents jailed in March 2003 amid the
harshest crackdown in decades.

Fariñas, who received and medication intravenously during the
protest, ended the fast after the announcement of the prisoner releases.

He also staged a brief hunger strike earlier this year to demand justice
in the case of fellow dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto, who government
opponents say died after being beaten by police officers.

The government and the dead man's family say no such aggression occurred.

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