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21 April 2024

Castro hit at 'cynicism' over Cuba dissident death


Cuba's ex-president Fidel Castro on Wednesday slammed the "incredible cynicism" of the United States and Europe over their reaction to the death of a dissident on hunger strike.

Wilmar Villar, 31, died last Thursday in Santiago, Cuba after a 50-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, activists say. He was the second dissident to die in less than two years in Cuba after going on a hunger strike.

The United States said Villar's death highlighted "the ongoing repression of the Cuban people."

Spain called on Cuba to "free all political prisoners, guarantee human rights and basic rights, and allow free expression of political ideas without exception," while the European Union said the case raised doubts about Cuba's legal and penitentiary systems.

But days after the communist government in Havana led by President Raul Castro roundly rejected the criticism, his older brother Fidel weighed in with his own fresh attacks.

"Some more wire reports (about reaction to Villar's death) have emerged that I wish to analyze, because they show the incredible cynicism generated by the decay of the West," Castro wrote in the latest in a series of

"reflections" which the 85-year-old revolutionary icon publishes in Cuba's state media.

Castro noted that an editorial in Monday's Granma newspaper "states that there was no such hunger strike," and that Villar had been sentenced to four years behind bars for beating his wife and resisting arrest.

Reporters for Granma and other "revolutionary organs can be wrong in any assessment of any subject, but they never falsify a story or make up a lie," he wrote.

In an earlier official statement, the government insisted Villar was not a dissident, and denied it was conducting a smear campaign against the deceased.

The statement said Villar had died of "multiple organ failure" which led to "septic shock."

Villar received all the attention expected "in a country with some of the best medical care in the world, which is provided free of charge, despite the imperialist blockade against our country," wrote Castro, who in 2006 handed over power to his brother Raul due to ill health.

Fidel said the Spanish government could be better served by traveling to the United States "to report on what happens in Yankee prisons," while the "ramshackle European Union" should focus on its own economic crises.