Press Release


Sakharov Prize: EPP Group celebrates award for its candidate, Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas. José Ignacio Salafranca MEP


SALAFRANCA SÁNCHEZ-NEYRA, José IgnacioEPP Group celebrates the award of the 2010 edition of the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought to its candidate, the Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, as decided today by the presidents of all political groups of the European Parliament.

"I think it is very difficult to find a person who represents better the spirit of the Sakharov Prize because Guillermo Fariñas has been a fighter in favour of freedoms, democracy and dignity in Cuba and I think he was really a great candidate for the award", said José Ignacio Salafranca MEP, one of the sponsors of the nomination.

Guillermo Fariñas, 48 years old, is a former soldier that withdrew his affiliation to the "Communists Youth" and became a dissident to the Castro brother's regime in 1989. A journalist and psychologist, he founded an independent press agency "Cubanacan Press" to inform the rest of the world of the destiny of all political prisoners in Cuba until he was forced to close by Cuban authorities.

As a non-violent protestor, he is one of the main known opponents to the Cuban regime, in which has spent more than 11 years of his life in prison. Like others before him, he has chosen hunger strikes as a method of protest against the lack of freedom and respect for human rights in his country. In 2006, he held his first seven month hunger strike to protest against Internet censorship in Cuba. His action was awarded with Report Without Borders Cyberfreedom Prize the same year.

Last February, he started his 23rd hunger strike, the day after the death of another dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, denounced by the European Parliament in a resolution, after three months of hunger strike in prison. This time, Fariñas was calling for the liberation of 26 other political prisoners who were ill after long years of detention. On July 8th, when close to collapse, he ended his 135 days of hunger strike after the announcement of the liberation of 52 political dissidents, thanks to the mediation of the Catholic Church.

The 2010 Sakharov Prize for Guillermo Fariñas "means that the European Parliament is supporting all people who strive for liberty, democracy and respect of human rights in Cuba and it will prove to be a very strong support for the dissidents in Cuba", Salafranca concluded.

The ceremony of the award is due to take place in the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg next December with the presence of Fariñas himself if the Cuban authorities allow him to travel outside the island.

In Focus - Why Guillermo Fariñas deserves the 2010 Sakharov Prize

For more information:
José Ignacio Salafranca MEP, Tel: + 33-3-88175603
Pedro López de Pablo, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-475-493352

Notes to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 265 Members.

Subcommittee on Human Rights