Cuban dissident awarded Sakharov Prize

Oct. 21, 2010 at 11:34 PM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- The European Parliament decided Thursday to award its 2010 Sakharov Prize to Guillermo Farinas, a Cuban activist who has spent years in prison.

Farinas told the EUobserver he hopes to be able to receive the award in person in December. The prize includes a grant of 50,000 euros (almost $70,000).

"I will try to travel to receive the prize but it depends on the Cuban authorities," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Santa Clara. "Remember that they consider us to be 21st century slaves without freedom of movement."

Farinas, 48, is a journalist and psychologist. He has spent almost 12 years in prison and been on hunger strike many times, with the last one ending in July when he was near death.

In 2005, a Cuban group, Ladies in White, was awarded the Sakharov Prize. At the time, Fidel Castro denounced the award personally and the group's prize is still waiting in Brussels.

The award comes at a time when Spain is pushing for the end of all European Union sanctions against Cuba. Spain recently convinced Cuba to free many of its political prisoners.

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