[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Another Herald Editorial on Fariñas

Friday, June 09, 2006

Another Herald Editorial on Fariñas

The Miami Herald is far from perfect. Every one in a while, they deserve a good slap in the face, especially when columnists such as Ana Menendez and others turn on their computers and open their keyboards.

However (yes there IS a however), the Herald deserves to be praised when it comes to advocating for human rights in Cuba. Back in March, they published a solid editorial on the status of Guillermo Fariñas, who has been on a hunger strike since the end of January. When it comes to this story and others relating to dissident rights in Cuba, the Miami Herald stands at the top of the MSM heap.

Today, they follow up with another well-written editorial on Fariñas' situation, which appears to be getting bleaker every day.

Here it is, and drop a note to the Herald thanking them for keeping the public aware of Fariñas and others who are fighting for human rights in Cuba.

Hunger striker's life staked on freedom


The Cuban regime's Internet blockade drew some fire at the recent Organization of American States' meeting in Santo Domingo. The final declaration pointedly noted that ''without political censorship,'' the Internet helps develop democracies. Such truth, however, will offer little comfort to Guillermo Fariñas, a Cuban dissident who appears ready to die protesting the Internet ban.

Mr. Fariñas, 42, began his hunger strike on Jan. 31 after regime authorities shut down his e-mail access. Today, 129 days later, he's sustained by intravenous drips in a hospital in Villa Clara in central Cuba. Doctors operated to remove fluids from his lungs last week. This week his sister said that Mr. Fariñas was "shutting down, bit by bit.''

Why would Internet access be so important that a man would stake his life on it? Mr. Fariñas, a psychologist turned independent journalist, used e-mail to send uncensored dispatches on the regime's attacks on dissidents and other human-rights abuses. Once posted on the Internet, the reports could be read by people all over the world. He wanted his e-mail access restored to continue spotlighting the plight of more than 300 political prisoners in Cuba's jails.

Of course, reporting on such politically incorrect topics is illegal in Cuba for the same reason that the regime has blocked access to the Internet for years. Cuba's dictatorship wants to control all information coming in and going out of the island. That's how it protects its 47-year-old media monopoly -- its tool for manipulating public opinion, both in Cuba and abroad, and staying in power. Unfettered access to the Internet poses a grave threat to the regime. Uncensored news and access to e-mail might give Cubans democratic ideas.

We do not condone Mr. Fariñas' hunger strike, and we hope for his recovery. Yet, despite the pleas of his family and fellow dissidents, Mr. Fariñas insists on continuing his protest. Last month he sent a letter asking the new U.N. Human Rights Council to condemn Cuba's government for its abuses. He also insists on his right to Internet access. The regime's Internet blockade is yet another sign of its indifference to such fundamental freedoms.


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