News and Facts about Cuba

Guillermo “Coco” Farinas – Hunger and Thirst Strike Continues

Guillermo “Coco” Farinas; Hunger and Thirst Strike Continues / Lilianne Ruíz

Lilianne Ruiz, 29 July 2016 — Guillermo ‘Coco’ Fariñas lost
consciousness on Thursday, 28 July at noon, the eighth day of his hunger
and thirst strike. He had to be taken to the main of Santa
Clara by the group of activists who are with him in the strike. He had
spent the morning with much discomfort and his temperature had risen
because of dehydration.

He arrived at the hospital unconscious and with the corners of his mouth
and tongue parched, and covered of bloody scabs. He is suffering from
“dizziness and all the hassles of severe dehydration,” according to Dr.
Rodriguez Rangel, a FANTU (Anti-Totalitarian Front) activist and
follower of Coco’s. It was the activists who took him, unconscious, to
receive intravenous hydration. Coco had indicated, as he told me by
phone, that the strike is “not about committing suicide,” but about
resisting hunger and thirst until his demands are met. This is his 25th
hunger strike.

Reflecting on the deteriorating of Coco makes very sad reading.
Jorge Luis “Bebo” Artiles Montiel has been designated by FANTU as
spokesperson for the strike and sends out information via text messages.
Most impressive to me is updated information on blood pressure, heart
rate, the quantity of the urine in the day, being taken by his mother,
Alicia, a licensed nurse.

I think about her, in the immense love and respect that she must feel
for her son’s decision, dealing with the pain of seeing his physical

The image of Christ and the Virgin at the foot of the cross comes to
mind. Suffering for a cause that transcends his own person and doing it
practically alone, flooded by a faith that has been lost in others from
the bitter experience of knowing what in its time was named “the world”
and that, thinking clearly, was nothing other, before or now, than

And I say “alone” because although they have the support of many people
inside and outside of Cuba, we mustn’t forget that they are in Santa
Clara and that if they were in Havana they would have already received
more visits from representatives from the diplomatic corps who, at the
end of the day, are the only ones who can help us right now with their
solidarity. And there would also be more of a presence of the foreign
media to shape public opinion about the strike; and a little more access
to the so that the activists can keep the issue visible on the
social networks.

Being in the provinces, Coco’s strike now needs all our strength, of
memory, of our good actions, a visit, a call, effective management by
those who can apply political pressure, a campaign on the social
networks, an escalation of visibility which demonstrates the commitment
to the defense of and democracy in Cuba, which is above all a
moral imperative.

Not only has Coco been hurt by a beating at the hands of State Security
agents while handcuffed, but also by that which was aptly defined by
Pope John Paul II, as the experience of “humiliation at the hands of
evil.” So the hunger strike is Coco’s moral response, committed to

Coco told me by phone that he appreciated his brothers from FANTU and
other organizations for having helped him when he lost
consciousness. And the doctors and nurses of the hospital of Santa Clara
because they did not let themselves be coerced.

The members of the repressive forces were also guarding the hospital, as
the activists with whom I spoke on the phone reported to me. The
presence of of the political in our lives as Cubans is one of the
things we want to erase and part of that chapter of which
Coco’s hunger strike is protesting against.

To give just one example, in Havana for the last 62 Sundays the Ladies
in White have confronted a brutal repression. They are beaten, thrown to
the pavement, and to prevent them from marching for the freedom
of the political prisoners.

To conceal the fact of the violence of its institutions the government
uses violence.

It reminds me of the little I’ve read of John Stuart Mill, because it
seems so desirable to build coexistence. Limiting the powers of
government is what they understood, and understand, as freedom. First
“obtaining recognition of certain immunities, called political liberties
or rights.” Because it is essential to the rule of law to prevent all
sorts of wrongdoers from coming to power.

A hunger and thirst strike creates an unspeakable discomfort in the
body. Although his body has been hydrated intravenously, it continues to
suffer and deteriorate through the effects of starvation and the oral
withdrawal of water. It is enough to feel thirsty or hungry during a few
hours in the day to imagine the severity of a strike like this.

Coco still suffers the physical effects of previous strikes, the longest
lasting 18 months. He suffers from a polyneuropathy in peripheral limbs,
muscular hypotonia, and gastric disorders. Because of his sacrifice, 52
of the 75 prisoners of the Black Spring were released, but the
circumstances surrounding that sacrifice was one of large-scale
international solidarity. Now we need that solidarity again.

We all want Coco to be well, with the same force with which we wish to
the violent repression inherent in the political and economic system of
Cuba to cease, along with the punishment for dissent, for seeking
justice, for freedom from a government hatefully ensconced in every
corner of this island where the light is trapped, and contributing to
the destruction: civic, political, economic, social and cultural.

Source: Guillermo “Coco” Farinas; Hunger and Thirst Strike Continues /
Lilianne Ruíz – Translating Cuba –

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