Independent journalist and prominent Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas has long been campaigning for the freedom of his compatriots.
In a desperate bid to get the world’s attention, he even put his own life on the line.
Fariñas embarked upon a 134 day-long hunger strike, only calling off his protest when the Cuban
government struck a prisoner release deal with the Catholic Church.
In total, 52 dissidents are due to be freed in the coming months.
They were among 75 political prisoners jailed during a 2003 crackdown by Fidel Castro.
Some have already arrived in Spain, which has agreed to recieve the former detainees, while several more are on their way.
Weak but triumphant, Fariñas spoke exclusively to Euronews.
Guillermo Fariñas: “The regime pragmatically decided to try to clean up its image and, at the same time, try to convince the EU to ease off its collective stance towards the Cuban government, and also try to convince the US government to finally allow American tourists and citizens to travel freely to Cuba. That would bring between 6 and 8 million potential tourists. This is very important for the Cuban economy which is facing complete bankruptcy.”
Euronews asked him for his response to the release of the prisoners, specifically the fact that it has been reported they had to leave Cuba.
Guillermo Fariñas: “As far as I know the prisoners have not been forced to leave.
“This is a peculiarity of the releases: it is, with all due respect, the Cardinal of the Catholic Cuban Church, Jaime Ortega, who proposed that they leave Cuba. When some of the prisoners refused, he explained to them that they have the right to do so and that within three or four months they will be back home if they don’t want to leave Cuba. So, it is important to underline that it is not the repressors, the state security officials, who want them to leave but the Catholic hierarchy who thinks it is for the best.”
Cuba to release 52 political prisoners