Cuban Dissident Guillermo Fariñas Finally Receives Sakharov Prize

Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas finally received his Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament, in Strasburg on Wednesday almost three years after Havana lifted the travel ban that prevented him from collecting it in 2010.

"There are various ways of fighting for freedom, in particular for freedom of thought. You have chosen, on several occasions, the hunger-strike as a weapon to fight against dictatorship in your country. You put your health at risk, but - fearlessly - you did it again and again," said European Parliament Vice-President Gianni Pittella, who chaired the award ceremony.

"The Sakharov Prize is the Prize for freedom of thought. You have found ways to express yourself in very difficult circumstances. We look forward to the day when all Cubans will be allowed to express themselves freely, without fear of repression," Pittella added.

"It has been a long road, full of bitterness, but also with great satisfactions. I have risked my life for this cause, and I will not hesitate to do it again because I believe that what is at stake in our destiny is not just a political or economic equation, but the basic foundation of life and human coexistence, which is freedom," said Guillermo Fariñas.

Fariñas is the third Sakharov Prize recipient from Cuba. A doctor of psychology, independent journalist and political dissident, he had over the years observed more than 20 hunger- strikes to protest the Cuban regime, with the objetive of achieving peaceful political change, and freedom of speech and expression in his country.

The other two were the Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White) who were awarded the prize in 2005 and were able to receive it in April 2013, and Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas, the 2002 winner, who died in a car accident last year.

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