[Marxism] California prisoners protest long-term solitary confinement, other mistreatment

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Mon Jul 18 08:06:40 MDT 2011

In my introduction to this important report, I wrote:
Remember the two prisoners in Cuba who staged protest hunger strikes? In one
case, the prisoner refused to end the strike or permit a feeding tube, and
he died. In the second case, the Cuban doctors succeeded in saving the
prisoner. Both were imprisoned on ordinary criminal convictions. US and
European major media covered that story intensively on a daily basis.

Unfortunately my recollected facts were partially wrong. The second hunger
striker referred to was not a prisoner.

Here is the back-story on that one. (He eventually left Cuba.)

Pascual Serrano - Rebelión

April 10, 2006
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann 
Translation posted June 26, 2006

 A hunger strike undertaken by Cuban psychologist Guillermo Fariñas in a
hospital of Villa Clara province has been the object of widespread media
coverage. Presented as a journalist employed by anti-Castro agency Cubanacán
Press, he has been on strike since January 31 to demand, as he wrote to the
Cuban president, “that Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A. install
an Internet connection at my home, as it has for a privileged few from the

Fariñas’s case is portrayed by worldwide media as an example of the Cuban
government’s cruel and repressive nature. His impact has been such that
browsing around Google news websites revealed that in the last month his
demand and subsequent hunger strike appeared in 97 reports in Spanish.
Extending our inquiry to cover the whole Google search engine proved there
are 131,000 links to Guillermo Fariñas, mostly focused on his strike. 

His demand for access to the Internet has been addressed by many, ranging
from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in his website to numerous
political organizations which have raised this issue in countless
institutions. In Spain, Partido Popular discussed it as part of a bill in
the Chamber of Deputies. 

Data reported at the Information Society Summit have it that 85% of the
world’s population have no access to the Internet. Of over 6.350 million
people, less than a sixth, that is, a billion people, used the Internet in
2005, according to a research by the U.S. consultancy firm Morgan Stanley
quoted by EFE news agency on December 28. In Black Africa, only 1% of people
are users, very few of them women. Further, a mere 0.6% of Latin Americans
can surf: 4.6% in Mexico; 0.7% in El Salvador; 0.04% in Nicaragua, and 0.03%
in Honduras. And there’s more: India, 1.6%; Indonesia, 1.8%, and Russia,

On the other hand, it is obvious that these few citizens in southern
countries may have the Internet just because they own a telephone line, live
in places with the necessary infrastructure, and can afford the
corresponding rates charged by telecommunication companies. In short, they
have not been granted access to the Net by the State at their request on the
basis of its use being a fundamental item in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, as the Cuban Guillermo Fariñas is demanding. In his last
communiqué, Fariñas remarked: “I have taken no food or water for 47 days
pending the installation of the Internet in our home, in line with Articles
19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. It is clear that
the said Declaration was anything but specific regarding the Internet since
it was drafted in 1948, long before the Internet was invented. 

>From the above figures one can conclude that there are plenty of citizens
worldwide –over 5.5 billion– deprived of the right Fariñas is demanding from
the Cuban government and for which he became a hunger striker. I wonder how
the governments –and the media– would react in Honduras, Senegal, India or
even Spain or the United States, should one of their subjects ever write a
letter to the President with threats of going on a hunger strike if
home-based access to the Internet is not provided to him at once. Many of
them, however, are more likely to write other letters before that one to ask
for a home, electricity service and a telephone line in the first place. 

Besides, to me it seems only reasonable that there are other priorities in a
world where forty thousand children die of hunger and curable diseases every
day. And so it is to the Cuban government, and that is why Fariñas has a
roof, was able to study and is being taking care of in a hospital even if he
has no Internet at home. 

I’m afraid that if we look in the media for the name of one of those
citizens comprised in the 20% of people in Ghana who have no electricity, or
that of a child among the 115 million children around the world who are
denied an education, or one of the 854 million adults who can’t read or
write or the hundred million homeless people, we would find none. 

If an African living in a refugee camp at Darfur undertook a hunger strike
to demand the Sudanese government to install the Internet in his tent, we
can guess how many newspapers would publish his name and how many political
and human rights organizations would hit the ceiling as they have about the
Cuban Fariñas’s case. 

It may sound cruel to make these comments about someone who is said to have
spent more than two months without eating or drinking. But to my mind those
are more cruel who try to convince the world that the human rights problem
facing our society is the provision of access to the Internet, or lack of
it, at this man’s home. In other words, they blame the Cuban government.



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