Today is a great day for Cuban freedom, as the European Union has awarded its top human rights prize to one of the island's fiercest warriors for freedom, justice and human rights. With his sacrfices, Guillermo Fariñas has demonstrated for the world what truly is at stake in the continuing struggle for freedom in Cuba.
The European Parliament has awarded its Sakharov human rights prize to Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas.
In July Mr Farinas, 48, ended a hunger strike after Cuba's communist government announced it was freeing 52 political prisoners.
During his campaign for human rights he has staged more than 20 hunger strikes and spent more than 11 years in prison.
An Israeli human rights watchdog and an Ethiopian opposition activist had also been nominated for the prize.
Mr Farinas, a psychologist, journalist and former soldier, had been near death while on hunger strike this year, doctors said.
The MEPs who nominated him for the prestigious award called him "a beacon of hope for dozens of journalists and activists who are currently in prison".
"Because he is defending dignity and democracy in his country, he is the ideal candidate for the Sakharov Prize." (emphasis added)
The European Union, like the US, has urged Cuba for years to free political prisoners and improve human rights.
The Sakharov Prize was named after late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and was first awarded in 1988. It includes a cash award of 50,000 euros.
The Russian human rights group Memorial won the award last year.
The Cuban Damas De Blanco won the prize in 2005.