Activists Ask Pope Francis to Take an Interest in Health of Guillermo Fariñas / 14ymedio

Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy / File)
Guillermo Farinas on hunger and thirst strike. (Courtesy / File)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 August 2016 — In a letter to Pope Francis, eight activists from the Anti-Totalitarian Forum (FANTU) have asked “his Holiness to take an interest” in the condition of regime opponent Guillermo Fariñas after 27 days on hunger strike.

The signatories are appealing to the Bishop of Rome to “keep Fariñas in your prayers” and said that the 2010 recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is risking his life to demand “compliance with Cuba’s existing laws to stop the violence of some Cubans against others.”

Guillermo Fariñas is in “critical condition” according to several reports issued on Monday afternoon by Jorge Luis Artiles Montiel, known as “Bebo,” a spokesperson for the well-known dissident during his hunger strike.

Artiles Montiel told 14ymedio via telephone that Fariñas had slept “from the time the doctor left in the morning” until the afternoon visit of independent unionist Ivan Hernandez Carrillo, with whom he spoke for a few minutes.

The spokesperson for the FANTU leader said the opponent is now in a very delicate state in which “he sleeps for long hours, passes little urine and reports a lot of pain in his lower back and joints.”

In the early days of this month, Farinas was visited by a representative of the Holy See in Havana, José Manuel Alcaide, and the bishop of the diocese of Santa Clara-Sancti Spiritus, Monsignor Arturo Gonzalez Amador, who came to his house to show their concern for the health of the dissident.

During Fariñas’ hunger strike he has also been visited by Dana Brown, head of the Economic Policy Section of the United States Embassy in Havana and Raquel Gómez, minister counselor in the Spanish embassy.

Fariñas is demanding through his hunger strike that Raul Castro publicly commit to not repressing the Cuban opposition and to ending state abuses that affect the self-employed. He is also demanding a dialogue between the authorities and the Cuban opposition.

Since Farinas began his protest on July 20, he has been taken to the hospital twice, both times after becoming unconscious. In both cases he received intravenous hydration in the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital in the city of Santa Clara, and then returned to his home, where he is being looked after by his mother, who is a nurse.

Guillermo Fariñas has said previously he is willing to continue his strike “until the final consequences” if all of his demands are not met.