Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Guillermo Fariñas - My Personal Cause

I started this post yesterday evening; but then blogger crashed and I lost it. I was so mad I had to walk away. So here we go, with take two.

Ever since I first posted about this story, now more than a month ago, Guillermo Fariñas became close to my heart. I do not know him, have not spoken with him, have not met him; all I know is he is fighting for his freedom to report, freedom of the press, the same freedom I have as I write this post and the same freedom you have to read it.

Guillermo Fariñas is fighting for his right to access to the Internet, so he can continue to report the abuses, censorship, and attacks on dissidents in Cuba. His weapon of choice, is his own life. He is on a hunger strike for access to the Internet, his emails and his right to freedom of the press - to report a story as he sees it, not as the government tells him it has to be seen.

As of late, little by little, more and more venues are picking up the story and reporting it, trying to give Guillermo Fariñas a stronger voice, and support in his effort.

In the most recent piece, and op-ed, The Miami Herald reports (my emphasis):

Desperate for freedom
The Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas is hungry to inform. To protest Cuba's cutting off his e-mail access, he has taken no food or water since Jan. 31. He has vowed not to resume eating until his e-mail is unblocked. The regime, meanwhile, shows no sign of easing up.

A psychologist turned independent journalist in a dictatorship that allows no free press, Mr. Fariñas directed the Cubanacán news agency from the city of Santa Clara. He sent uncensored accounts of human-rights abuses and other news via e-mail from an Internet café. That ended after he described to The Miami Herald a government-organized mob attack typical of the tightening squeeze on Cuban dissidents.

''I got on my knees and said, `Down With Fidel!','' Mr. Fariñas was quoted in the front page of the newspaper. ``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.''

The next day, his e-mail was blocked, and his hunger strike soon followed. Now he is being fed intravenously in a hospital and has lost more than 60 pounds.

Many people protest the Chinese government's Internet censorship, and with good reason. Freedom of information is a fundamental right. Cuba has been controlling Internet access and blocking websites for years and should be condemned, too.

Indeed, Cuba's information blockade has allowed it to misinform the Cuban people, promote its image abroad and sustain its dictator in power for nearly five decades.
We do not condone Mr. Fariñas' hunger strike and hope he ends it before his health is damaged even more. But his voice should not be silenced by any government.

His courage under repression is admirable. Mr. Fariñas' desperation for freedom is yet another measure of Cuba's brutality.
What will it take for this man to be granted his Internet? Will he ultimately die? Will the world allow this to happen? Uncommon Sense has more on Guillermo Fariñas here.

Previous Posts:
Hunger Strike for Internet Freedom - Update
Hunger Strike for Internet Freedom
Fariñas Still on Hunger Strike
Hunger Strike for Internet Freedom Continues
Hunger Strike for Internet Freedom - Update on Fariñas

Related Links:
Hunger strike continues
Guillermo Fariñas Update,
Guillermo Fariñas Update 2Are you ready for this?

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