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Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas released a third time

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-29

Cuban authorities released dissident Guillermo Farinas Friday, after his third detention in 48 hours. Farinas said he had been arrested along with other opposition figures for trying to prevent the eviction of a squatter family.

AFP - Cuban high-profile dissident Guillermo Farinas was set free by authorities Friday after his third arrest in 48 hours, his mother said.

Farinas, the 2010 Sakharov rights prize winner, was released by security services after an emergency medical check-up undertaken after the detainee complained about chest pain, Alicia Hernandez, the activist's mother, said.

"His health is delicate, and doctors have recommended rest," Hernandez said in a telephone interview from her home in the city of Santa Clara.

She said prison doctors had been called after her son had suffered from a shortness of breath, fever and chest pains.

Cuban authorities arrested Farinas earlier Friday along with "more than 20" other activists who had gone to lay flowers at a monument to national hero Jose Marti.

The dissident had been also detained late Thursday with around 10 other political activists, hours after being released from his initial detention on Wednesday afternoon.

Farinas went on a 135-day hunger strike last year to draw attention to the challenges faced by dissidents of the Americas' only one-party communist regime.

His detention came as the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said it expected human rights to "deteriorate" this year in Cuba. The group said 2010 was "very adverse" despite the release of political prisoners.

Some 105 political prisoners remain in the Caribbean nation -- down from 201 in January 2010, according to CCDHRN chief Elizardo Sanchez.

Farinas, 49, was awarded the Sakharov prize in October after his latest hunger strike, his 23rd, following the February death of fellow dissident Orlando Zapata.

He ended the protest when President Raul Castro authorized the release of 52 political prisoners -- out of a group of 75 arrested in 2003 -- on the heels of talks with senior Roman Catholic Church clerics in Havana.

The regime has released 41 of them so far; the 11 remaining have declined an offer to go into exile in Spain.

The Cuban government, which skirts the issue in its official media outlets, still denies holding any political prisoners; it says they are mercenaries in the pay of the United States.

CCDHRN, a group considered illegal but tolerated by the regime, said Cuba has the most prisoners of conscience in the Americas -- 19. The rights group recorded 2,074 arbitrary arrests for political motives last year, most of them lasting just hours or days, up from 870 in 2009.

On December 15, an empty chair draped in a Cuban flag symbolized Havana's refusal to allow Farinas to pick up his prestigious Sakharov rights prize in Strasbourg.

"I accept the prize... because I feel I am a tiny part of the rebellious spirit of this people I am proud to belong to," Farinas said in a recorded message to the European Parliament that gave him the award.

He urged Europeans at the time to fight for the release of Cuba's political prisoners, help end anti-opposition attacks and call for the creation of opposition parties and trade unions.

Farinas was the third Cuban to receive the Sakharov prize, after dissident activist Oswaldo Paya in 2002 and the 2005 award to the Ladies in White, a group of women whose dissident husbands are jailed.

A former soldier and supporter of Fidel Castro's revolution, Farinas distanced himself from the regime in 1989 when he opposed the execution of general Arnaldo Ochoa, who was accused of drug trafficking.

He had been jailed three times before Wednesday's arrest.


Date created : 2011-01-27

  • CUBA

    Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas arrested

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