Alcides Rivera Rodriguez, with his wife Idania Yanez and their two children.
As has been recently reported, Santa Clara opposition activists Alcides Rivera Rodriguez and Rolando Ferrer Espinosa have been urgently rushed to the Provincial Arnaldo Milian Castro Hospital during a 29 day (up to now) hunger strike. Rodriguez was taken during the night hours of Thursday the 27th while Ferrer was checked in on the 28th.
In the case of Rivera Rodriguez, upon arriving to the hospital he was diagnosed with bronchopneumonia. Shortly after, doctors informed his relatives that the diagnosis was not very clear and that his potassium levels were alarmingly elevated. The dissident from Placetas, Jorge Luis Garcia ‘Antunez’ informed through his Twitter account that the Milian Castro Hospital was completely “militarized” due to the presence of the activists.
The president of the Central Opposition Coalition and wife of Rodriguez, Idania Yanez Contrera reiterated that the strikers were willing to take their protest, which they began on September 28th, to the final consequences. She added that with the protest, they are demanding “an end to the excessive violence against the non-violent opposition and the people of Cuba in general, that dissidents be allowed to have their own social spaces, and that, once in for all, the activists jailed within the past months in Santiago de Cuba and other provinces be released“. Yanez explains that the two strikers did not want to be taken to the hospital, especially after the sudden death of Lady in White Laura Pollan. However, their physical conditions left no other option. “On Thursday, Alcides couldn’t even get himself up from bed and it was nearly impossible for him to urinate“. In the case of Rolando Ferrer, “he has been suffering from severe abdominal pains“.
Yanez Contrera warns that a third activist is also taking part in this strike, though from the Prison known as “Pre”. His name is Arselio Lopez Rojas and is a political prisoner whom “joined the strike on October 1st and since then has been physically and verbally attacked by the penitentiary authorities, especially by an official by the name of Osmany Febles de la Paz” who has even threatened with killing him.
The hunger strike initially included three other dissidents- Frank Reyes Lopez, Guillermo del Sol Perez, and Jorge Vazquez Chaviano. Each one of these men stopped the strike due to serious health complications, according to Yanez. “Frank Reyes stopped the strike last Saturday, the 22nd of October. He was suffering from a chronic gastritis and is currently still in the hospital“, while the other two suffered similar outcomes. “In the case of Jorge Vazquez he was urinating blood“.
A seventh dissident- Franklin Peregrino del Toro, from Cacocum, Holguin joined the hunger strike on the 10th of October but discontinued it on the 27th.
Idania Yanez declares that she, along with all the other relatives of the strikers, are extremely concerned for their lives. “Their health is deteriorating daily. Alcides entered the hunger strike weighing 220 pounds and is now weighing 165. Rolando Ferrer was 156 and is now weighing 125 pounds. Meanwhile, the government has paid no attention to their demands whatsoever“. But Yanez also points out that these are “very brave actions on behalf of the three remaining protesters and all those who participated in the strike, who for diverse reasons have found themselves in a position where they had to discontinue it“.
(UPDATE- Saturday, October 29th. 6:00 PM)- As of the afternoon hours of Saturday the 29th, Idania Yanez offered declarations to this blog about her husband Alcides and also Rolando Ferrer, both of which are still in critical condition with health complications. In the case of Ferrer, he cannot even speak and the doctors have not decided what will be done with him, while they wanted to move Alcides to an Intermediate Care Unit but the families protested and refused, for that floor on the hospital is commonly known as “The Slaughter Room”. Yanez adds that the hospital continued to be completely militarized. State Security agents are stationed all over the building, making decisions and watching over everyone and everything. But this has not kept Idania and other fellow dissidents from showing up to the hospital and spending the night.
(Excuse the quality, but here are Idana Yanez’s audio declarations, in Spanish):