Fariñas: Cubans are being subjected to "social genocide"

Miami, May 13 (EFE).- Cuba's Communist government is carrying out a process of "social genocide" against the island's people, prominent dissident Guillermo Fariñas said Monday in Miami.

"The Cuban government is (committing) social genocide because it's been trying to disintegrate and defame the Cuban nation for 54 years," the 51-year-old activist said in an interview with Efe.

Like other dissidents, Fariñas, who on Sunday arrived in Miami accompanied by his mother, Alicia Hernandez, has been able to leave Cuba for the first time thanks to a relaxation of migration laws that entered into force in January.

In addition to Miami, Fariñas is scheduled to visit New Jersey, Washington, New York and San Juan, and then travel on to Honduras, Spain and Poland, among other countries.

After issuing a call for the "unity of all Cubans" both inside and outside the island, the dissident said that at the present time it is of primary importance to fight peacefully for the restoration of democratic values on the island.

Cuba's last freely elected president, Carlos Prio (1903-1977), was ousted in 1952 in a military coup led by Fulgencio Batista, whose U.S.-backed regime fell in 1959 to Fidel Castro.

After visiting Spain, Fariñas will travel to Brussels to receive the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize, which was awarded to him in 2010 but which he has not been able to accept because Cuban authorities had denied him permission - until now - to leave the island.

When asked about his health, the dissident said that it had deteriorated after the blood clot he suffered as a result of a hunger strike he undertook in 2010.

Fariñas has undertaken a score of hunger strikes, among them a four-month-long fast in 2010 to protest the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo and to demand that Cuban authorities release ailing political prisoners.

This is the first time that Fariñas has left the island and, according to Ramon Saul Sanchez, the director of the Miami-based Democracy Movement, "it's a positive step that the Cuban government is letting some of the leaders of the opposition leave, although (other important dissidents) are being excluded" from the process.