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.”
— José Daniel Ferrer (@jdanielferrer) September 24, 2018
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.