Granma: Cuba can't force-feed protester

March 9, 2010 at 8:29 PM
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HAVANA, March 9 (UPI) -- The Cuban government is willing to let Guillermo Farinas, a dissident who has been on hunger strike for two weeks, die, the official newspaper Granma suggests.

In an article published Monday, Granma said forced tube feeding would be "unethical" and the government cannot give in to "blackmail," The Miami Herald reported.

Farinas is beginning the third week of a fast without food or liquids. He began his hunger strike the day after the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. Tamayo, a political prisoner, died after 83 days of hunger strike.

In a telephone interview from his home in Santa Clara, Farinas told the Herald a Spanish diplomat visited him and told him the Cuban government was willing to let him leave for Spain. He said he rejected the offer.

Farinas said the Granma article was effectively a "death sentence." The article was unusual in mentioning an opponent of the regime.

"There are bio-ethical principles that require a physician to respect a person's decision to start a hunger strike," Granma said. "Therefore, there's no way he can be forced to take food, as U.S. authorities do regularly at the prisons and torture centers in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram."

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