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Guillermo Fariñas abandons his hunger strike

Dissidents in exile applaud the decision and stress that he managed to draw the world's attention.

La Habana

On Monday dissenter Guillermo Fariñas decided to abandon a hunger strike he had been on for 54 days to demand that Raúl Castro desist from his persecution of protestors on the Island. His spokesman, Jorge Luis Artiles Montiel, confirmed the development for DIARIO DE CUBA.

The decision was made after a meeting of the organization headed by Fariñas: the Foro Antitotalitario Unido (FANTU), which initially had reported that Fariñas had decided to abandon his strike because he had been appointed an adviser to the European Parliament.

Hours later his spokesman clarified that the reason for the stop to the strike was actually a slated trip by the dissident to Europe in the coming months to educate MEPs about the human rights situation in Cuba.

"We spent two hours trying to convince him, along with his family, to quit the strike," said Artiles. The spokesman celebrated the fact that "after a 54-day odyssey," the protestor "is alive, thank God."

"He, taking into account our demands, and those of all the anti-Castro organizations made up of exiles, and the various opposition groups and organizations in Cuba, who have supported this protest unconditionally, finally agreed," explained a statement released by FANTU.

"At this time he will begin to hydrate, as dictated by our organization’s statutes," the statement reads.

Alleged amendment

Hours before the winner of the Sakharov Prize abandoned the strike a website purportedly belonging to the European Parliament (EP) Information Office in Spain issued a statement on the alleged approval of an amendment named for Farinas that would make EU policy towards Cuba contingent upon the regime's response to demands like those made by the dissident.

According to the AP, however, the EU representative on the Island could not confirm the existence of said amendment, or any vote on Monday in the EP plenary on this issue.

"What it is, I don't exactly know," said the advising minister of the European Community in Cuba, Alain Bothorel, who heads up the diplomatic delegation. “I find it a bit strange that it would be an amendment.”

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), meanwhile, reported that the news of the alleged amendment is "false."

"The purported press release contended that the amendment was annexed to the "Regulations of the commercial strategy of the European Union with the countries of the African bloc" report, and illegitimately describes details of the discussions regarding the G. Farinas Amendment, which has not yet been debated," said the CANF.

"Sources consulted by the Cuban American National Foundation in the European Parliament confirm for us that the information is fraudulent and that the blog that has spread the news about the G. Farinas Amendment days ago was not issued by the European Parliament’s Information Office in Spain, such that the EP is considering taking action in this regard," it added.

DIARIO DE CUBA contacted the EP's Information Office in Spain, where a press official confirmed that the page publishing the news about a supposed approval of the amendment "is false."

"This event can only be related to the discretization campaign being carried out by the Cuban Government against the dissident, as part of its efforts to misinform the Cuban people and the international community," warned the CANF.

Reactions to the end of Fariñas's strike

After the announcement that Fariñas's strike was over, Alicia Fariñas, the dissident's daughter, who on Friday backed a campaign for her father on the social networks, thanked the people who "helped him, and those who criticized him too."

On her Facebook page the dissident's daughter wrote: "As I've always said, what does not kill us makes us stronger. We can say that we did it. He’ll be around for a while. God is good and knows that men like him cannot die. Today I was reborn."

Meanwhile, the activist Rosa María Payá stated that knowing that Fariñas's hunger strike has ended is a "relief," and that his feat has shown that the Cuban Government "has no respect for the lives of its citizens," reports the EFE .

"Fariñas and the other strikers are worth more alive for the future of Cuba," said Payá, of the "Cuba Decides" movement, after the news came out. 

"His demands are very fair and very clear," said Payá, who urged the Cuban Government to understand that civil society is an "interlocutor" and "even more legitimate than those who have not been elected," he said. 

Ramón Saúl Sánchez, with the “Movimiento Democracia,” was glad that the winner of the 2010 Sakharov Prize put an end to a protest that placed his life in danger.

Sánchez said that although the Cuban Government, due to its "arrogance," has not responded to Fariñas's demands, the FANTU leader's hunger strike has resonated internationally and "generated awareness of repression in Cuba."

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