News and Facts about Cuba

Cuban dissident passes 1 week on hunger strike

Posted on Monday, 09.17.12

Cuban passes 1 week on hunger strike


Associated Press

HAVANA — A prominent Cuban dissident completed her first week on a

hunger strike with supporters saying her condition is worsening each day

and they fear she might die. Pro-government bloggers, meanwhile,

denounced the strike as a sham.

Martha , a 67-year-old, state-trained economist turned

dissident leader, was in a "very delicate" condition, said Idania Yanez,

a supporter who was standing vigil at her Havana home.

"We are afraid that at any moment something bad could happen," she said.

"Thank God nothing fatal has happened, but this is destroying her."

Roque, who suffers from diabetes, launched her strike on Sept. 10 and

dissidents say she has been joined by more than two dozen others around

the country.

She is demanding the government release a little-known opposition

who she says was due to leave jail more than a week ago, among

other things.

Roque has refused , and has stopped taking medication, adding to

concern about her condition.

The government, which considers all dissidents common criminals paid by

Washington to stir up trouble, has declined repeated requests for comment.

But pro-government bloggers have expressed doubts that Roque's hunger

strike is legitimate, saying they interviewed doctors who examined her

and noted no decline in her condition.

One , H.M. Lagarde, described the episode as a soap opera and

noted that in a previous hunger strike Roque had reportedly received

last rites, only to re-emerge apparently healthy days later.

"It wouldn't be surprising if now, as then, Martha Beatriz, surprised us

with another of her resurrections," he wrote on his .

Cuba's small opposition community has already lost two of its leaders in

less than a year. Veteran dissident was killed in a car

in July, and Ladies in White founder Laura Pollan died of heart

failure in October 2011.

Two other Cuban opposition figures have died in hunger strikes in recent

years. Wilman Villar died in January following a 50-day hunger strike he

called to protest his four-year sentence for assault, resisting arrest

and disrespecting authority.

In February 2010, Orlando Tamayo died after refusing food for

months. He was considered a by U.K.-based human

rights group Amnesty International.

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