Antunez Prepares For Stage Two of Protest

Thursday, May 14, 2009
From the Miami Herald:
 
The Cuban activist who gave up solid food for nearly three months in a protest over prison and housing conditions ended his hunger strike Thursday, and vowed to launch an in-your-face campaign against the government that does not damage his health.

Former political prisoner Jorge Luis ''Antúnez'' García gave up eating Feb. 17 in a quest to force the government to fix the house his sister lost to a hurricane last year and improve his brother-in-law's prison conditions.

Antúnez, his wife, Iris Pérez, and several friends set up camp on Antúnez's front porch in Placetas, a town about three hours east of Havana. There, the Cuban National Police surrounded the street and refused to let anyone pass.

In that time, Antúnez's frame went from 213 pounds to 147. Pérez dropped from 157 pounds to 127.

''I am very thin,'' Antúnez said in a telephone call Thursday from Cuba. ``When I look at myself, even I get scared.''

Antúnez's brother-in-law, Mario Alberto Pérez, is no longer being harassed in prison, and the family has been allowed to visit. But his sister Caridad García still does not have a new home.

''We don't feel beaten. We don't feel frustrated,'' he said. ``We feel healthy pride.''

Now he plans a series of confrontational acts the government will not be able to ignore or cordon off.

''We are starting a new phase of this protest,'' he said. ``When we begin to take those steps, you will know it and the government will know it.  It would be an error to discuss it on the telephone when our calls are monitored.  It will be much more head-on, much more open and strong.  It will be forceful, with a greater political cost to the government, but less damage to our health.''