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Dissident on hunger strike in danger of dying, Cuba says

July 6, 2010 | 11:39 am

Cuba dissident farinas havana

A prominent Cuban dissident on a hunger strike has developed a blood clot that could kill him, Cuba's government said in an unprecedented official report in the Communist Party state-run newspaper. Here's the report in state-run Granma, in Spanish, headlined "Fighting for life is our responsibility." (The English version of the site does not appear to have the article posted.)

In the report, a doctor who has been treating Guillermo Farinas said the dissident is fed nutrients intravenously and has gained weight since being admitted to the Arnaldo Milian Castro University Hospital in the city of Santa Clara. But infections and a recent clot that could block the flow of blood to his heart is putting Farinas's life in danger, Dr. Armando Caballero said.

The Granma story fills two pages in the eight-page newspaper but does not mention that Farinas is on a hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners in Cuba. The 48-year-old psychologist and journalist began the hunger strike Feb. 24; he was moved March 11 to the Milian Castro hospital, where he has access to a telephone line and a television. The dissident has carried out 22 hunger strikes in the last 15 years, reports said.

He has vowed to remain on hunger strike until all political prisoners and dissidents in Cuba are released.

Cuba usually ignores calls to release dissidents but has faced increased international pressure and protests on the island from the "ladies in white." The movement of mothers and wives of jailed dissidents grew after the February death of another hunger-striker, Orlando Zapata.

Late last month the Cuban government released one dissident, Darsi Ferrer. Ferrer had been jailed for 11 months for allegedly buying black-market cement. Critics said his punishment was excessive.

"The entire Cuban population buys black-market goods," economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe said.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: A doctor treats Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas on March 5, 2010. Credit: Associated Press

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