A group of 30 Cubans who oppose the Castro dictatorship who began a hunger strike in September over the continuing imprisonment of peaceful activist Jorge Vázquez Chaviano abandoned their strike after authorities announced that Vázquez would be released.
“It’s a victory for citizens,” opposition member Idania Yáñez Contreras said in Havana.
The hunger strike also mobilized Cuban exiles in Miami and international human rights organizations.
The strike began in the city of Placetas, Villa Clara, by well-known Castro government opposition member Jorge Luis García Pérez, also known as Antúnez, member of the Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front “Orlando Zapata Tamayo.” Other dissidents, such as economist Martha Beatriz Roque, director of the Cuban Network of Community Communications, based in Havana, and journalist and psychologist Guillermo Fariñas, joined the hunger strike or participated in peaceful demonstrations.
Vázquez should have been released on September 9, after serving a six-month sentence. He had been jailed in the “Alambradas de Manacas” prison, located in the province of Villa Clara.
However, the Cuban government refused to release him. Later, a municipal court in Sagua La Grande, Villa Clara, said that he would be released in April 2013.
The strike took a toll on the health of the dissidents. Antúnez was taken to the emergency room of the General Hospital in Placetas. He was unconscious after 10 days of fasting. He recovered in the hospital, but refused an IV to feed him and asked to be sent home immediately. Roque’s condition was also serious. Roque, 67 and diabetic, suffered tremors, among other complications, and fainted. The strike also protested consistent abuse and beatings of dissidents, as well as harassment and arbitrary detentions.