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Cuban dissident, hunger strike survivor, to receive Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

Cuban dissident, hunger strike survivor, to receive Truman-Reagan Medal
of Freedom
By Elizabeth LlorentePublished June 10, 2015Fox News Latino

A Cuban dissident who has won numerous awards for his longtime efforts –
including 23 hunger strikes, some of them near-fatal – to bring
democratic changes to his homeland is expected to receive the 2015
Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom on Friday.

Guillermo Fariñas will join the ranks of past recipients such as Pope
John Paul II and William F. Buckley, Jr.

Fariñas, who counts among his awards the European Union’s 2010 Sakharov
Prize for Freedom of Thought, said in a telephone interview from his
home in Havana that each honor is important to him because it sparks a
renewed urgency to fight for human rights.

“Every distinction is a reflection of support, a new source of pressure
to keep pushing for liberty,” he told Fox News Latino. “It’s another
source of motivation for me.”

The award is given by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a
U.S-based non-profit educational organization that was established by
Congress.

Besides Farinas, who will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington
D.C., a Medal of Freedom also will be given to Russian journalist
Alexandr Podrabinek, according to a press release by the foundation.

“It is our honor and privilege to present this award to Guillermo
Fariñas Hernández and Alexandr Podrabinek,” said Marion Smith, Executive
Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, in a statement.

“These two men come from different places, but share a tireless devotion
to ensuring that future generations will live in a world free from the
horrors of communism,” Smith said. “With this award, we honor their
courage and their continued commitment to the fight for basic human rights.”

Fariñas has served a total of 11 years in Cuban jails as a political
prisoner. He staged hunger strikes while in jail, sometimes imperiling
his health.

Podrabinek also was arrested in the former Soviet Union for his
political dissidence, and was exiled to Siberia at one point for five
years. Today he continues to fight oppression by the government of
Vladimir Putin.

Fariñas said that little has changed in Cuba under President Raul
Castro, who, with President Barack Obama, is working on restoring
diplomatic relations between the longtime adversaries.

“They still try to quash political opposition,” he said. “The change is
only really economic, not political. Cuba has lost Venezuela as a
lifeline, so in desperation it has turned to the United States, which
until now was its sworn enemy.”

Elizabeth Llorente can be reached at elizabeth.llorente@foxnewslatino.com

Source: Cuban dissident, hunger strike survivor, to receive
Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom | Fox News Latino –
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2015/06/10/cuban-dissident-hunger-strike-survivor-to-receive-truman-reagan-medal-freedom/

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