SANTA CLARA, Cuba – Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas was in “serious but stable” condition Friday and will stay at least another day in the intensive care unit of the hospital where he was admitted after passing out on the 17th day of a hunger strike, doctors said.
The psychologist and opposition journalist is resting in the ICU of the Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital in Santa Clara, 270 kilometers (168 miles) east of Havana, where he has undergone medical exams to see how far his physical deterioration has gone after mounting two-dozen hunger strikes over the past 15 years.
Fariñas’s mother, Alicia Hernandez, told Efe Friday that her son suffers from neuropathy, cardiac deficiency and other complications from the fast that he began as a means of petitioning Cuban President Raul Castro to release the 26 ailing political prisoners from jail
Fariñas, 48, fainted Thursday and was unconscious for an hour, and Thursday night he felt weak and run-down, with bad headaches, muscle pain and fatigue, according to Hernandez, a trained nurse.
The dissident has spent a total of 11 years in jail over the past two decades, and his previous hunger strikes had serious after-effects, according to doctors and family members.
He began the current protest when government agents prohibited him two weeks ago from attending the funeral of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died after an 85-day hunger strike seeking better treatment in jail.
Last week Fariñas was hospitalized after suffering a first stroke of hypoglycemia, but recovered consciousness a few hours later and went home after being hydrated and resumed fasting.
Cuba’s communist government says there are no political prisoners on the island and denounces most dissidents as “mercenaries” in the service of the United States.
Yet, the international uproar over Zapata’s death prompted Raul Castro to take the unprecedented step of publicly expressing his regret, though he denied the government was responsible for the tragedy. EFE