Cuban Man Hunger Strikes For Internet Access

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There’ll be no puns here for the subject of this article-no “hunger for this” or “dying for that”-puns, a lower form of humor they say, would denigrate the tribulation of a journalist and his newborn raison d’etre-like calling a spoof a sincere flattery. Simply, a Cuban man has embarked on a hunger strike in an effort to win unrestricted access to the World Wide Web.

”I got on my knees and said, `Down With Fidel!'” said Guillermo Farinas, a 41-year-old psychologist-turned-independent-(and anti-establishment)-journalist, as he reported the events of a government agent mob attack to The Miami Herald.

“They started kicking and beating me, bruising my back, arm and head. They stopped when they saw I would not lose my dignity and say things I didn’t feel,” he continued. The attack was prompted by uncensored email about human-rights abuses in the country sent from an Internet caf in Santa Clara.

Cuba, a country whose octogenarian dictator, Fidel Castro, disallows a free press and blocks Internet access outside of local networks, is on Reporter’s Without Borders list of “The 15 enemies of the Internet,” alongside China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.

After Farinas’ refusal to take back his words, his email was blocked, prompting a hunger strike that began on January 31st. Farinas has since been moved to a local hospital where he is refusing medication, kept in critical (and deteriorating) condition by IV drip.

“The hunger strike continues. He has been isolated in intensive care since Thursday (March 2nd),” said Niurbis Diaz, who worked with Farinas as an independent reporter. “He is refusing pills and injections,” she told Reuters by telephone.

“His head hurts, and his legs are bothering him,” said his mother, Alicia Hernandez. “Sometimes, his blood pressure drops, but other times he’s stable. Everyone, not just me, but the people who call him from outside Cuba, plus the doctors and nurses, have tried to get him to stop, but he will not give in. He is determined.”

Failing to dissuade Farinas to give up his plight, activists are making their pleas the Cuban government.

“We call on authorities to respect his rights, agree to his petition immediately, and save his life,” said dissident Oswaldo Paya.

The Cuban government has met the situation with chilly indifference, shifting the blame to U.S. economic sanctions that prevent underwater fiber optic connectivity. According to the U.S. State Department, Cuba has jailed 333 people for political reasons.

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