Health of hunger-striking Cuban dissident worsens: mother

Health of hunger-striking Cuban dissident worsens: mother
AFP – Monday, March 29

HAVANA (AFP) – – Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas, who has been on a full hunger strike for 28 days, has a staph infection and is in the early stages of a battle against septic shock that could kill him, his mother told AFP Sunday.

Farinas is the second case of a recent strike by a political dissident in Cuba, the Americas’ only one-party communist regime.

The fate of dissidents has brought an international outcry from Europe and the United States as well as from human rights groups.

“My son is on the verge of a major complication that will put his life in danger. He is very unwell and could go into septic shock,” said Farinas’ mother Alicia Hernandez, 75, who is a nurse, from her home in Santa Clara 280 kilometers (168 miles) east of Havana.

An independent news blogger and psychologist by training, Farinas, 48, launched his fast the day after political prisoner Orlando Zapata died on the 85th day of his own hunger strike.

Farinas has been protesting the treatment of 26 political prisoners needing medical attention in Cuba; he wants the prisoners freed.

His mother, who does not back his strike or ideological stand, said doctors treating her son in the provincial hospital in Santa Clara are trying to help him with antibiotics “but he is very frail, has pain in his arms and legs, and fever.”

“I am afraid he will not achieve a thing, but he is hanging in there,” she said.

Meanwhile, wives and mothers of numerous political prisoners have held an unprecedented week of protest marches in Havana in defiance of the authorities to press for the release of the dissidents, some of whom have been held for seven years.

Havana insists it keeps no political prisoners, branding the dissidents in jail as “mercenaries” in the pay of the United States.

On Wednesday US President Barack Obama slammed Cuba for its continued political and human rights repression and called for an end to the Communist regime’s “clenched fist” policy against its people.

“I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people,” he added.

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