14ymedio, Havana, 23 July 2016 — In a letter published Saturday by the former president of Costa Rica and 1987 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Oscar Arias Sanchez asks his “friend” Guillermo Fariñas to “lift his hunger and thirst strike.”
Arias Sanchez explains that the hunger strike will not succeed as a recourse to persuade the government of the island “that you cannot pursue noble ends with ignoble means.” He also says that Cuba “is not a different democracy” but rather is “a dictatorship.” The former Costa Rican president (1986-1990 and 2006-2010) recalled the case of regime opponent Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died after an 86-day hunger strike. He did not manage “to convince the Cuban regime that it was necessary to preserve the life of this person, regardless of any ideological differences” and nor did he move “the compassion of the Cuban dictatorship.”
The missive, published on Arias Sanchez’s Facebook account, says that “nothing we could do could save Orlando Zapata.” He emphasized that his voice will not be silent as long as “they continue to violate human rights in Cuba” and that he has lived long enough “to know that there is nothing worse than being afraid to tell the ‘truth’.”
Guillermo Fariñas, 2010 recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, declared himself on a hunger and thirst strike in the early hours of Wednesday, July 20 to demand that the beatings of non-violent opposition members in Cuba be stopped and that a dialogue be opened with government.
Friday, Fariñas added a third demand which requires the regime to “cease the arbitrary confiscations from the self-employed, small businesses and entrepreneurs and all Cubans who are being violently attacked” by the “military.”
Fariñas expressed solidarity with Carlos Amel Oliva, youth leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who began a hunger strike on July 13 “to protest the arbitrary confiscations” and said he would continue the strike until the belongings that were confiscated from him are returned. On Friday, one of the 75 dissidents imprisoned during the Black Spring of 2003, Eduardo Diaz Fleitas, joined the hunger strike.