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BosNewsLife (03/15/06) – Dozens of human rights activists and students have been praying in Cuba for political prisoners amid concern over an independent journalist who they claim is in serious health problems because of a hunger strike, dissidents confirmed to BosNewsLife Wednesday, March 15.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate (CDD), a non-profit organization working for democracy in the Communist island, told BosNewsLife that the activists participated in a special mass at the María del Carmen Church in the city of Santa Clara , on Sunday March 12.

It was meant as “a symbol of solidarity with political prisoners, and with Guillermo Farinas Hernandez, an independent journalist” who went on hunger strike to demand access to the internet.

Among those attending was dissident Noelia Pedraza Jimenez, who recently concluded a hunger strike “demanding the cessation of repression and violence instigated by the Communist Party of Cuba and State Security,” the group added.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

In addition members of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy (CYMD) held two simultaneous activities to commemorate “the assault on the presidential palace and the death of Jose Antonio Echeverria, leader of the Student Revolutionary Directorate in 1957,” the group explained.

“The first activity was a march of young Cubans toward the University in Havana and an offering of white roses in memory of those who died on that day… The second activity consisted of a pilgrimage of youth from the house where José Antonio Echeverría in the city of Cardenas in Matanzas to the tomb where his remains are found.”

CDD described the activities as a “milestone in the struggle of young Cubans for democracy and liberty. It is one more demonstration that we are committed to this civic struggle, and that nothing will hold us back.”

BLACK SPRING

This month marks the third anniversary of a crackdown when in March 2003 about 75 civil right political activists, including Christians, were arrested, judged, and sentenced to up to 28 years in prison. Among them were journalists, librarians, union members, poets, and intellectuals.

The crackdown became known as Cuba’s “Black Spring” and CDD said several “manifestations will take place in various parts of the world, including Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Chile, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain.”

The activities on March 18 also aim to “raise awareness about the reality” in Cuba , it said. Cuban leader Fidel Castro has denied human rights abuses and says “so-called dissidents” are “mercenaries of the United States .”