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The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize to  Cuban ‘dissident’Guillermo Fariñas in recognition for his contribution to human rights in Cuba. Fariñas’ twentieth hunger strike, to demand the release of Cuban political prisoners, ended in July after 135 days, during which he was kept alive in intensive care by Cuban medics. Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament said: ‘Fariñas is an independent journalist and a political dissident who has shown that he is ready to sacrifice himself and risk his health and his life as a way of applying pressure to achieve change in Cuba.’ However, Buzek did not mention Fariñas record of non-political violent crime or his employment under US programmes to destabilise the Cuban Revolution.

In 1995 Fariñas assaulted, battered and threatened to kill a women doctor, the director of a hospital. Sentenced to three years and a 600 peso fine, he initiated his first hunger strike and joined the counter-revolution for the first time. In 2002, an old woman he attacked with a walking stick needed emergency surgery. Sentenced to five to ten years, Farinas began a second hunger strike. His third hunger strike was to demand a television in the hospital wing where he was recovering from dehydration caused by the second. In December 2003, Cuban authorities released him because of his medical condition, but in 2006 Farinas initiated another hunger strike to demand internet access from his home. This was to assist his work as a reporter for the CIA radio station, Radio Martí. Fariñas works closely with the US Interest Section (a substitute for an embassy) and other European diplomats who direct subversion in Cuba, receiving instructions, money and supplies. He lacks popular support and the Cuban people, who Fariñas claims to represent, consider him to be a mercenary for US imperialism.

The Sakharov Prize is named after Andréi Dmítrievich Sakharov (1921-1989), a nuclear physicist from the Soviet Union who helped to develop the Hydrogen Bomb before defecting from the USSR. By granting this prize to Fariñas, the European Parliament exposes itself to accusations of hypocrisy, given Europe’s support for the US blockade of Cuba. Since 1996 the European Union has adopted an unprecedented Common Position which has frozen political and economic relations with Cuba. This policy exacerbates the devastating economic, social and cultural impact of the US blockade, rejected in 19 consecutive UN General Assembly votes. The blockade is estimated to have cost Cuba $236 billion in lost trade and income, effectively violating the human rights of the Cuban people through a policy which is intended to subdue them through starvation.

Fariñas’ prize is not moral, but material. He will receive 50,000 Euros for risking his life for the struggle to bring capitalism to Cuba. This sum, however, is less than the cost to Cuba for the treatment which kept him alive during this latest hunger strike, provided under the country’s free, universal health service.

Fariñas has stated that if the Cuban government denies him permission to leave the country to collect his reward on 15 December he will initiate another hunger strike. A Cuban doctor said ‘He knows that if he does his life will be at risk practically within the first hours of initiating the hunger strike.’ A separate contradictory news report has claimed that the Cuban government is offering Fariñas and his family the opportunity to leave Cuba for the US. If he does leave, the counter-revolution will lose its new celebrity on the island. Additionally, Fariñas’ claims to the international media of having received special military training and fought for Cuba in the internationalist mission in Angola have been denied outright by the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

from the Rock around the blockade blog

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