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Cuba1 August 2005

Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández has called off hunger strike

The Nueva Prensa Cubana website has reported that Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández called off his hunger strike after one week. He had begun the hunger strike on 14 July. According to the website, Mayo Hernández told his wife, Maidelin Guerra Álvarez, he decided to abandon the hunger strike because of his state of health and so that his family "would not have to camp outside the prison." He is also said to have been moved by the expressions of international solidarity which his wife reported to him. Reporters Without Borders continues however to be concerned about his very poor state of health and the conditions in which he is being held.


19.07.05 - Imprisoned journalist threatens to starve himself to death

Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today about the fate of imprisoned journalist Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández, who has announced in a message to the organisation that he began a hunger strike on 14 July and will starve himself to death if he is not released soon.

The editor of the Felix Varela news agency, a small independent agency based in the eastern province of Camagüey, Mayo Hernández has been in prison since March 2003.

"We take his warning seriously and the Cuban government would be well-advised to do so as well," Reporters Without Borders said. "Must the government wait until one of the 21 journalists held since the Black Spring of 2003 dies before it finally agrees to release the others?"

The organisation added: "By committing himself to an indefinite hunger strike, Mayo Hernández is representing all of his fellow-journalists and other dissidents who have been convicted without cause and pushed to their limit by more two years of detention in filthy prisons. His desperate act calls for an urgent pardon for him and all the Black Spring’s other victims, even if this means pardoning innocent men."

Mayo Hernández’s wife, Maidelin Guerra Álvarez, yesterday sent Reporters Without Borders the following message from her husband:

"I will not wait until the government deigns to grant the release of 20 detainees because they are ill or because Fidel Castro needs to improve his international image. I have even less intention of waiting 10 or 20 years (...).

"I was imprisoned just for freely saying what I think and for practising independent journalism on this island. I have never lied about human rights violations in Cuba. This is why I will maintain my hunger strike until I obtain my freedom or I die. If death is the price to pay, I am ready to pay it, but I want the world to know that nothing short of freedom will now be able to stop me."

Arrested on 19 March 2003, Mayo Hernández was sentenced on 4 April 2003 to 20 years in prison for "threat to the state’s independence or territorial integrity." He has been transferred from prison to prison four times since his arrest and has been in Kilo 7 prison in Camagüey since 21 June.

He has had several spells in prison infirmaries or hospital because of his many ailments, which include pulmonary emphysema, high blood pressure and inflammation of the prostate. He already went on hunger strike for a month in November to protest against prison conditions and mistreatment by guards.



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in the annual report
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No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
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