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Cuban dissident released from hospital after nearly 50-day hunger strike

Guillermo Fariñas says he is ready to die

SANTA CLARA, Cuba – A Cuban dissident who has been on a hunger strike for nearly 50 days was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Guillermo Fariñas, who is internationally known and awarded, was rushed to the hospital Monday after fainting.

Local 10 News reporter Hatzel Vela got a chance to speak with Fariñas at his home in Santa Clara over the weekend. 

The tall, lanky man used to weigh 191 pounds, but he has lost close to 50 pounds during the hunger strike.

He's been taken to the hospital five times now and said that he is ready to die.

Fariñas barely moved when Vela visited him, and was comforted by a wet towel that Vela was told helps alleviate his constant headache.

Fariñas said the hunger strike would only end when Cuban President Raul Castro agrees to end violence against political dissidents and small private business owners.

Fariñas said he wants Castro to publicly say that he will enforce Cuban laws already on the books that ban oppression against its citizens.

He also wants to petition his government as allowed, he said, by Article 63 of the current Cuban constitution.

"Cuban citizens have a right to do this, and our authorities should respond," Fariñas said. 

The 54-year-old, known by his nickname, Coco, has been on more than 20 hunger strikes in the past.

Fariñas said there has been increased repression against small private business owners since President Barack Obama visited the island.

He said the Cuban government is afraid of prosperity and is afraid of entrepreneurs who cannot be manipulated by the government.

The Cuban government has made reforms since 2008 and allowed more private business, but critics maintain that the process has been slow.

Local 10 News saw a significant emerging private sector in Santa Clara.

"It's time the Cuban government stop treating us like a piece of meat," Fariñas said.

And as far as Obama, he said: "He's negotiated with a group of thugs, legitimized by the new relations with the United States."

Members of the exile community, as well as dissidents, are urging Fariñas to end the hunger strike because they believe he can get more done alive than dead.


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