- Title: CUBA: Lady in White joins imprisoned husband on hunger strike
- Date: 4th February 2011
- Summary: PHOTO OF HER HUSBAND, DIOSDADO GONZï¿½ï¿½ÂLEZ MARRERO (CENTRE) WITH THEIR SONS, REYMAR GONZALEZ GARCIA (LEFT) AND DAIRELIS GONZALEZ GARCIA (RIGHT) (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ALEJANDRINA GARCIA, WOMAN IN WHITE, SAYING: "I am doing this (going on hunger strike) for my husband's freedom. This, for me, is a sign of hope, something that I am doing that I know is not indifferent. It is not indifferent, not to the government, even if they really believe it is, nor to the international community, nor to the town where I live."
- Embargoed: 19th February 2011 10:52
- Location: Cuba, Cuba
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVACRQROJVJX1UI75XTDWJ7ZHFHT
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: A member of Cuban opposition organization the Ladies in White is on hunger strike to protest her husbandï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s imprisonment.
Alejandrina Garcia started her fast on January 28 in a protest on behalf of 11 jailed dissidents - including her husband - who have refused to accept an offer by the government that grants them freedom in exchange for exile.
Garcia spoke from her bed in the town of El Roque in Matanzas province, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Havana.
"I am doing this (going on hunger strike) for my husband's freedom. This, for me, is a sign of hope, something that I am doing that I know is not indifferent. It is not indifferent, not to the government, even if they really believe it is, nor to the international community, nor to the town where I live," said Garcia.
Cuban President Raul Castro promised the Catholic Church last year that he would free 52 political prisoners if they agreed to leave Cuba. Eleven refused the conditions, including Garciaï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½s husband, Diosdado Gonzalez, and Pedro Arguelles, who is also on hunger strike.
Gonzalez and Arguelles joined her in the fast from their prison cells on Tuesday (February 1).
"I understand that it has been a joke [of the government to not have released the prisoners in a time period the government set]. They have been playing with the feelings of the families and, above all, of the prisoners. There is no objective that can come from more prison time. I understand that I can not be here with my arms folded during this silence from the government, and also the church and the government of Spain, who have not given a response," said Garcia.
Laura Pollan, a spokeswoman for the Ladies in White, visited Garcia to ask her to stop her strike, amid concern that more would join in. She said among those could be Daniel Ferrer, who is also from the group of 11.
"I am, as I said, very worried because it is not just Alejandrina [Garcia]. Now, Diosdado [Gonzalez] is on hunger strike. Pedro Arguelles is on hunger strike. Now there is a situation with Jose Daniel [Ferrer] in Santiago de Cuba; they have him in a punishment cell. We do not know that if from there he will go on hunger strike or not, but the situation is there. I think we are at a very, very critical moment," said Pollan.
March will bring the eighth anniversary of the crackdown, known as the "Black Spring" when the men were arrested.
"They [the government] has to settle this debt. They have to liberate the 11 that remain from the group of 75 and then continue to free all the others [political prisoners]. There are men who are endangering their lives and the life of a Lady in White, and whatever happens [to them], we hold the Cuban government responsible, for not releasing the prisoners," said Pollan.
Cuban dissidents, who are small in number and not well-known domestically, say the hunger strikes have refocused international attention on their cause.
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