Cuban dissident ends hunger strike

July 9, 2010 at 9:42 AM
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HAVANA, July 9 (UPI) -- Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas ended his hunger strike after the government announced it would release 52 political prisoners, Farinas's supporters said.

Farinas, who refused food for more than 130 days, reportedly was near death in recent days and hospitalized in the city of Santa, the BBC reported Friday.

"This confrontation ... has no winners or losers, only Cuba, our nation, has won," Farinas said in a statement released by his supporters.

After Wednesday's announcement of the prisoner release, Spain's foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, asked the European Union to relax its Common Position on Cuba, a 1996 policy that calls for advances in human rights and democracy before relations with Cuba could be normalized, the BBC said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was encouraged by the move, which she described as "something that is overdue, but nevertheless very welcome."

Farinas began his hunger strike after another dissident died in February on the 85th day of a hunger strike. The death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo led to an international criticism of the Cuban government, which has denied it has political prisoners, calling them mercenaries paid by the United States to undercut the country's regime.

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