The Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas finally received his Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament, in Strasburg on Wednesday almost three years after Havana lifted the travel ban that prevented him from collecting it in 2010.
"There are various ways of fighting for freedom, in particular for freedom of thought. You have chosen, on several occasions, the hunger strike as a weapon to fight against dictatorship in your country. You put your health at risk, but - fearlessly - you did it again and again," said European Parliament Vice-President Gianni Pittella, who presided at the award ceremony.
"The Sakharov Prize is the Prize for freedom of thought. You have found ways to express yourself in very difficult circumstances. We look forward to the day when all Cubans will be allowed to express themselves freely, without fear of repression," the Vice-President added.
"It has been a long road, full of bitterness, but also with great satisfactions. I have risked my life for this cause, and I will not hesitate to do it again because I believe that what is at stake in our destiny is not just a political or economic equation, but the basic foundation of life and human coexistence, which is freedom," said Guillermo Fariñas.
"I accept this Award on behalf of all those who have made this journey possible in time and space because I am firmly convinced that our struggle goes way beyond our own limitations as human beings. We want to bring back the sense of service to politics and that can only be achieved through this path we have chosen of nonviolence and human rights," he concluded.
Guillermo Fariñas is the third Sakharov Prize laureate from Cuba. A doctor of psychology, independent journalist and political dissident, he has over the years conducted more than 20 hunger strikes to protest against the Cuban regime, with the aim of achieving peaceful political change, freedom of speech and freedom of expression in his country.
The other two laureates were the Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White) who were awarded the prize in 2005 and were able to receive it in April 2013, and Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas, the 2002 laureate, who died in a car accident in 2012.