Hunger strikes are bad for the cause of freedom in Cuba, for they risk taking the lives of those Cubans the nation most needs to help lead them out of the tyranny the Castro brothers have wrought on the island for more than 53 years.
Cuba does not need any more martyrs, especially if they take their own lives.
I cannot fault men and women like Jorge Luis Perez Garcia Antunez, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and many others before them who with their own will and courage choose to fight the dictatorship with methods that if left unchecked, will results in their deaths by suicide. Other methods have forever failed to sway the Castros so the desperation that defines a hunger strike is not surprising.
Hunger strikes, however, are bad for Cuba.
The possible consequences of a hunger strike -- the protester's death -- make it an unacceptable on moral grounds, a conclusion more certain when the target of the Cuban protests is a regime as callous and sociopathic as the Castros'. Except in instances so rare as to make them irrelevant when considering possible responses to future protests, the dictatorship would be happy if the hunger strikers would just die.
Which is ever more reason why Antunez, Roque and the two dozen other dissidents currently on hunger strike to protest the human rights situation on the island and to demand the release of political prisoner Jorge Vazquez Chaviano, must live. Which is ever more reason to pray that the regime accedes to their demands, that they end their protests and that their bodies recover from the toll their protests have taken on their bodies.
Dead, maybe their example will inspire others to take up the fight, maybe they will force the world to acknowledge, finally, the true nature of the regime in Havana. Or maybe not.
Alive, they are a mortal threat to the Castro dictatorship. And the dictatorship knows it.
Anyone with the courage to take their fight to the extremes that the hunger strikers have taken theirs over the past week, is exactly who Cuba and the cause of freedom on the island, needs to live and to lead another day.