Cuban Political Prisoner Moved to Medical Ward After over 40 Days of Hunger Strike

Preso político Tomás Núñez Magdariaga, activista de la Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU).

Tomás Núñez Magdariaga, a Cuban political prisoner imprisoned on false assault charges, entered day 42 of a hunger strike Tuesday. His case rises to prominence as Cuban puppet president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes the social rounds at the United Nations in New York.

Cuba’s constitution makes the head of the armed forces and the head of the Communist Party the most powerful individual in the country. Both titles belong to dictator Raúl Castro. Castro handed down a third, subsidiary title – “President” – to Díaz-Canel in April. The system is similar to that in other communist countries, i.e., in China, Xi Jinping holds all three titles.

Martí Noticias, a U.S.-based Cuban interests outlet, cited Núñez Magdariaga’s niece last week as informing that he had been moved to a “punishment cell” for attempting a hunger strike. She reported that officers blocked her from visiting him. On Tuesday, brother Oscar Núñez said that he managed to enter eastern Santiago’s Boniato prison to see his brother.

“All I saw was skin and bone and nothing else,” Núñez lamented to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), a Cuban pro-democracy group cited by Martí. Núñez said he brought his brother a chicken broth but he refused to eat it, saying “I will eat when they free me.”

Núñez Magdariaga, 66, began his hunger strike on August 14, making Tuesday his 42nd day without food. At the time, he had completed a sentence of one year in prison for alleged “threats” against a communist state officer. On the day he was to be freed, officers informed him he was sentenced to yet another year in prison. Núñez Magdariaga is an active member of UNPACU and openly opposes the Castro regime. He is also a member of the Cuba Decide movement, which has begun circulating petitions urging for free elections to choose a head of government on the island.

Such elections have not occurred under the Castro regime. Díaz-Canel received the title of “president” after a vote among the less than dozen members of Raúl Castro’s inner circle, who voted unanimously for the then-vice president.

Núñez Magdariaga’s niece, Nurvia Núñez Jaime, told the outlet Cubanet this month that she believes the regime “has every interest in letting my uncle die.” She added that her uncle told her authorities informed him that they had dismissed his appeals for freedom without processing them and had no intention of releasing him.

The charges against Núñez Magdariaga stem from a claim by former state police officer Aldo Rosales Montoya that the dissident threatened to assault him. In a video posted by UNPACU this month, Aldo Rosales Montoya, the officer in question, confessed to fabricating the claims to secure imprisonment for Núñez Magdariaga.

“At the time of the accusation, I was working for a counterintelligence chief using the pseudonym ‘Cristian.’ Tomás Núñez Magdariaga has spent over a month on a hunger strike demanding justice. My conscience does not let me see a man die for a false accusation,” Rosales Montoya said in the video. He adds that the reason he made the accusation was that government officials promised him a stable job and better home.

Less than a week after the publication of the video, the head of UNPACU, José Daniel Ferrer García, revealed that Rosales Montoya attempted to commit suicide using a combination of drugs and alcohol.

“Two UNPACU activists came to his rescue because nobody else did. No ambulance came so they took him to Palma Soriano hospital,” Ferrer noted.

The head of the Organization of American States (OEA), Luis Almagro, has demanded that the federal government in Havana intervene and save the dissident’s life.

“The Cuban regime must immediately liberate activist Tomas Núñez, whose life is in danger after over a month on hunger strike and is in prison on false charges … the government is responsible for his life,” Almagro said.

The U.S. Department of State has also expressed “grave concern” over Núñez Magdariaga’s life.

Díaz-Canel is currently in New York and spoke at an event honor Nelson Mandela, a longtime friend of dictator Fidel Castro during his life. He is expected to speak freely at the U.N. General Assembly debate this week; it remains unclear whether other delegations representing free countries will challenge his regime’s continued violations of human rights.
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