Cuba dissident Farinas ends hunger strike: opposition

8th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas on Thursday ended his 135-day hunger strike after the communist government said it would free 52 political prisoners, an opposition leader told AFP.

"Farinas has from this moment stopped the hunger strike," Gisela Delgado told AFP, after visiting him in hospital in the central city of Santa Clara.

Farinas has been in intensive care since suffering a hypoglycemic shock two weeks after stopping to eat and drink at the end of February.

He began his protest the day after another dissident, Orlando Zapata, died following an 85-day hunger strike.

Cuba late Wednesday agreed to free 52 political prisoners in a surprise church-state deal promising the biggest prisoner release since President Raul Castro formally took power in 2008.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the step was overdue but "a positive sign," after many in Europe welcomed the move and called for the release of all political prisoners.

Farinas had said he could end his strike when at least five political prisoners were released, having dropped his original demand for 25 to be freed once church mediation was under way.

The Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission estimates there are 167 political prisoners in the Caribbean nation of more than 11 million people.

© 2010 AFP

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