Cuba airs tape questioning dissident hunger strike

AP News
Posted: Sep 25, 2012 10:10 PM
Cuba airs tape questioning dissident hunger strike

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban state television aired images Tuesday night raising questions about the recent hunger strike by a prominent dissident.

The 15-minute segment broadcast on the nightly news included testimony from a neighbor saying he took fruit and vegetables to dissident Martha Beatriz Roque.

Video supposedly shot outside Roque's home showed someone passing avocados and other food inside a window to a woman. Her face was not visible, but the voice on the audio sounded like Roque's.

"She told me in a very low voice, 'I am on hunger strike.' I asked for how long. 'Since yesterday,'" said a man identified as Humberto Gonzalez. He described himself as a neighbor with a window adjacent to Roque.

"She said she needed me to get her fruits, vegetables, above all things that didn't need cooking, and she gave me money," Gonzalez said.

Roque and at least two dozen other activists announced the hunger strike Sept. 10 to demand the release of Jorge Vazquez, an anti-government activist imprisoned for common crimes. They called off the protest Sept. 18, saying the government had promised to free Vazquez.

Tuesday night's report included a recorded phone conversation in which Vazquez's wife purportedly told Roque that he was not prepared to keep up the protest.

It also contained testimony from a doctor who said she visited Roque and found her to be in good health.

Roque, a 67-year-old former economics professor, suffers from diabetes, and fellow dissidents said her health was in serious danger during the hunger strike. They later proclaimed the protest a success.