One of the more admirable qualities of many in the Cuban opposition is their willingess to sacrifice themselves on behalf of their fellow activists, their willingness to risk what little freedom they enjoy and in fact, lay their own lives on the line, in order to raise awareness about injustices being committed against their compatriots and all their fellow Cubans.
Efe has the story on how it's happening again, with two of the island's leading dissidents, former political prisoners Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez), leading a new hunger strike to demand, among other things, the release from jail of political prisoner Jorge Vasquez Chaviano. Eleven other activists have also joined the protest, which was announced Monday.
The possibility of great harm coming to hunger strikers is very real, because of the malevolent disregared by the Castro regime and because of the toll that previous prison terms and protests have taken on the health of the hunger strikers. For example, Roque, 67. who was imprisoned during "the black spring" of 2003 but paroled a year later due to poor health, is a diabetic and warns she may die within 48 hours if she does not eat.
Cuban dissident Marta Beatriz Roque on Monday began a hunger strike along with 12 other opposition members to demand that the authorities put an end to their excesses over recent months.
The 67-year-old Roque announced that she will continue with the protest "to the very end" and warned that her life could be in danger as a result because of her chronic diabetes.
She told reporters that she will refuse any kind of medication and that she will only ingest water, saying that that could "accelerate hypoglycemia and cause death in 48 hours."
Roque, one of the "Group of 75" dissidents jailed in the Black Spring of 2003, was paroled the following year for health reasons.
She said that she would only halt the hunger strike if the authorities release dissident Jorge Vazquez Chaviano, who has been imprisoned since mid-year.
Roque said Vazquez was supposed to have been released on Monday because the sentence that was imposed on him ended on that day.
In addition, she demanded that the Cuban government respond to the alleged assault on the home of dissident couple Misael Valdez Diaz and Vivian Peña Hernandez by organized government supporters.
The alleged attack on the home in the eastern town of Palma Soriano came while the couple and their 2-year-old daughter were in police custody.
Valdez and Peña belong to the Orlando Zapata National Front for Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience, named in honor of the dissident who died in prison in 2010 after an 85-day hunger strike.
To those two cases may be added the burning of the home of another opposition member in April and two incidents in Santiago de Cuba where the home of Jose Daniel Ferrer, another Group of 75 veteran, was ransacked.
"We have as much right to a response as any other citizen," said Roque in justifying her hunger strike.
The dissident said she felt calm because "everything is organized" at her home for what might occur in the coming days and she also revealed that she had completed her will.
- Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello - La Habana
- Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez) - Placetas
- Jorge Vázquez Chaviano - Prisión La Alambrada, Santa Clara
- Arturo Conde Zamora - Placetas
- Alberto Reyes Morales - Santa Clara*
- Diosmel Martínez Corcho - Santa Clara
- Luis Enrique Santos Caballero - Santa Clara*
- Yerandis Martínez Rodríguez - Prisión La Pendiente, Santa Clara
- Orlando Almenares Reyes - Prisión Canaleta, Ciego de Ávila
- Luis Enrique Pous - Prisión Canaleta, Ciego de Ávila
- Robertley Villalobos Torres - Prisión Canaleta, Ciego de Ávila
- Israel Roberto Isaac - Prisión Canaleta, Ciego de Ávila
- Yuniel Álvarez Garcíá - Prisión Canaleta, Ciego de Ávila