- Created: Thursday, 16 December 2010 10:46
- Written by Helen Yaffe
On 21 October 2010, European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights to Cuban ‘dissident’ Guillermo Fariñas, whose latest hunger strike to demand the release of Cuban political prisoners ended in July 2010 after 135 days. He was kept alive in intensive care by Cuban medics. President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek described Fariñas as an independent journalist and a political dissident who is ‘ready to sacrifice himself and risk his health and his life as a way of applying pressure to achieve change in Cuba.’ 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 female doctor. 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, Fariñas 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 Fariñas initiated another hunger strike to demand internet access from his home to assist his work as a ‘reporter’ for the CIA radio station Radio Marti.
Fariñas works closely with the US Interests Section and other European diplomats who direct subversion in Cuba, receiving instructions, money and supplies. He lacks popular support and the Cuban people, whom Fariñas claims to represent, consider him to be a mercenary for US imperialism. The prize is 50,000 Euros, less than the cost to Cuba for the treatment which kept Fariñas alive during this latest hunger strike, provided under the country’s free, universal health service.
Four days later, on 25 October, Europe’s hypocrisy on the question of human rights was exposed when the European Union (EU) voted to continue its unprecedented ‘Common Position’ against Cuba. Imposed since 1996, this policy freezes political and diplomatic relations with Havana and violates the human rights of the Cuban people by exacerbating the devastating economic, social and cultural impact of the US blockade. Britain voted to keep the Common Position.
The following day at the UN General Assembly vote on the US blockade, Cuba’s Foreign Minister informed the European representatives that Cuba does not recognise their moral or political authority on the issue of human rights. Europe should ‘concern itself with its brutal anti-immigrant policy, the deportation of minorities, the violent repression of demonstrators and the growing social exclusion of its unemployed and low-income sectors. Shamelessly and disgracefully, the European Parliament devotes itself to awarding prizes to the paid agents of the US government in Cuba. But the European Union is dreaming if it believes that it will be able to normalise relations with Cuba while the so-called Common Position exists.’
FRFI 218 December 2010/January 2011