Radio Martí has been at the forefront of coverage of a hunger strike by Marta Beatriz Roque and other Cubans who are demanding the release of fellow dissident Vázquez Chaviano.
Since Roque began her hunger strike on Sept. 9, she has been in regular contact with Radio Marti’s Miami headquarters. When she became too weak to speak, her nurse Idania Yanez became Roque’s voice.
Roque is a well-known member of Cuba’s opposition, a former political prisoner and an independent economist. Two days after her peaceful cry for help, 23 other dissidents across the island joined in hunger strikes on behalf of Chaviano, who was arrested last March during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba.
In an essay for Martinoticias.com, independent journalist and blogger Ivan Garcia described the hunger strike as one of the few weapons that Cuban citizens can use against authoritarianism and human rights violations committed under the Castro government. Garcia’s article mentions several cases in which hunger strikers have died when their demands were not met.
In an interview with TV Martí, Cuban intellectual Carlos Alberto Montaner said hunger strikes rarely succeed.
“Over the last five decades of dictatorship, hunger strikes as a means of pressure to achieve demands and draw worldwide attention in Cuba have had little success,” Montaner said. He added that “desperation” is the driving force behind the recent increase in fasting protests in Cuba.