Friday, July 9, 2010


CUBA (AFP) - Cuban opposition activist Guillermo Farinas ended his 134-day hunger strike Thursday, following signs the communist government is making good on its promise to release 52 political prisoners. Farinas drank sips of water at a hospital near his home in the central city of Santa Clara, said Licet Zamora, a spokeswoman for the 48-year-old psychologist and freelance journalist. Zamora described Farinas’ condition as “grave” after he recently suffered a potentially fatal blood clot in his neck. The Cuban appeared in good spirits as he sat on the bed in his third-floor hospital room writing. Two nearby nurses attended to him and a group of relatives gathered in a nearby waiting room. Kept alive by intravenous feeding, Farinas had refused food and water since shortly after the Feb. 23 death of fellow dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died following a lengthy prison hunger strike of his own behind bars. President Raul Castro had said if Farinas died it would be his own fault.

Farinas had demanded the release of dozens of political prisoners, but a deal between the government and officials from the Cuban Roman Catholic Church prompted him to give up the strike. Under a Wednesday agreement brokered by visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, authorities promised to free five political prisoners as soon as possible and force them to head to Spain - then release 47 more in the next two or three months. Shortly before Farinas made his announcement, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, called five prisoners to say they should prepare to be released and leave the country in coming days. Another six were being transferred to jails closer to their homes.

“Tapas means austerity or penance. Fasting done in terms of the Vedic commands enriches one in spiritual knowledge. However, one should not fast unnecessarily or against Vedic injunctions, nor with any political purpose. This is described as fasting in the mode of ignorance, and it does not lead to spiritual advancement.

There are persons who manufacture modes of austerity and penance which are not mentioned in the scriptural injunctions. For instance, fasting for some ulterior purpose, such as to promote a purely political end, is not mentioned in the scriptural directions. The scriptures recommend fasting for spiritual advancement, not for some political end or social purpose. By such activities, not only is the combination of material elements of which the body is constructed disturbed, but also the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself living within the body. Such unauthorized fasting or austerities for some political end are certainly very disturbing to others. They are not mentioned in the Vedic literature. ... These acts are not approved by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, ... and they are enacted in disobedience to the Vedic scriptural injunctions.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
“The Bhagavad-gītā As It Is”
Purport in Chapter 17 - Verses 5-6.

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