July 30, 2010 / 3:43 AM / 9 years ago

Cuban hunger striker Farinas leaves hospital

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas, whose long hunger strike helped pressure the Cuban government into releasing political prisoners, left the hospital on Thursday, not fully recovered, but ready to resume his life of opposition.

Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas talks on the phone in his house in Santa Clara July 29, 2010. Farinas, whose long hunger strike helped pressure the Cuban government into releasing political prisoners, left the hospital on Thursday, not fully recovered, but ready to resume his life of opposition. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa

Three weeks after ending his 135-day fast, Farinas said in a telephone interview he felt “diminished” and still cannot walk well.

He stopped eating and drinking on February 24 and ended the strike on July 8, a day after the government pledged to release 52 jailed dissidents in a deal with the Catholic Church.

His hunger strike added to international criticism of the Cuban government that followed the February 23 death of imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo and the harassment of the opposition group “Ladies in White” during protest marches.

The 48-year-old psychologist and writer collapsed on March 11 and from then on received nutrients and liquids intravenously in a hospital in his hometown of Santa Clara, 168 miles east of Havana.

Farinas, speaking from Santa Clara, told Reuters he is eating “small quantities” of food and remains under treatment for a blood clot in his neck that doctors had described as life-threatening.

He said he would spend his first week out of the hospital giving interviews to the international press, then resume his work of editing and writing for a dissident blog.

So far, 20 of the promised 52 prisoners have been released in a process the church said could take four months.

Farinas said he is prepare to relaunch his hunger strike if the prisoners are not all freed by November 7.

“We’re going to wait until the 7th of November to see if the government honors the word it gave to the Catholic church and to national and international public opinion,” he said.

Farinas had conducted 22 previous hunger strikes, including a seven-month strike seeking improved Internet access.

Cuban officials consider dissidents to be U.S.-backed mercenaries working to subvert the island’s communist-led government.

Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; Editing by Jackie Frank

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