Cuban dissident ceases hunger strike

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Jose Daniel Ferrer, the currently imprisoned head of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, called off his hunger strike on April 26 while a group of activists continue to pray for his release.

Ferrer’s wife, Belkis Cantillo, said the dissident declared a hunger strike on April 23 to protest the conditions under which he was detained on April 2, included repression of free speech. 

During visits, “we were only allowed to talk about family issues and nothing political,” Cantillo said.

But “today they allowed me to see him and we talked about everything, about political issues he wanted to know about, family matters, and he ate the food we brought him and said he would suspend his hunger strike, as the food (he gets in prison) had gotten better.”

She said her husband “is very thin” and that he will be put on trial for “public disorder.”

Ferrer’s prolonged detention – because of his activism in Santiago – has inspired solidarity from dissidents on the island and abroad, who are demanding that the Communist government release him immediately.

For their part, members of the Patriotic Union are organizing activities across Cuba for the release of Ferrer, including prayer groups and Bible studies. On its YouTube channel, the Union posted a video of some of its members gathered together to pray for the Cuban dissident.

Ferrer was part of the group of 75 dissidents arrested in 2003 during the so-called Black Spring.  He was condemned to 25 years in prison but released in May of 2010 thanks to talks between the Church and the government.

He was re-arrested in February of this year because of his political activities in Santiago in a new crackdown on dissidents by President Raul Castro.

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