Guillermo Farinas on hunger strike in Cuba

The Castro cabal won’t let Cubans have unfettered access to the Internet for fear the people might be exposed to new ideas. Or maybe it’s fear that Cubans will use the Internet to expose the Castro regime.

One man is putting his life on the line to fight this: Guillermo Farinas.

Farinas said he launched his most recent strike Jan. 31, 2006, after the government denied Cubans access to the one Internet cafe in Santa Clara. Fellow independent journalists had filed an e-mail report from the cafe, claiming authorities depleted the local blood bank to ship blood to Pakistan with Cuban medical teams. Without the cafe, Farinas and his colleagues can only phone and fax reports abroad, delaying publication.

A recent U.N. report found Cuba had the lowest Internet usage rate in the Americas and among the lowest worldwide: Fewer than one in 50 residents. The Cuban government limits most Cubans only to e-mail accounts or access to a controlled Cuban intranet, denying the World Wide Web to most.

Here’s what makes Farinas’ dissent more remarkable:

As a teenager, he was a member of the communist youth group, then attended a military academy. He served as a military cadet in Angola and the former Soviet Union, he said.

“Remarkable,” that is, until you see why he turned against Castro:

As a cadet guarding leaders’ homes around 1980, Farinas said he saw they had what most Cubans lacked: nice cars and better food. He learned the island’s top brass sometimes attended cockfights, which were supposed to be illegal.

“I saw there was a difference between what they said and what they do,” he said sadly.

What? A difference between what Castro says and does? Say it ain’t so!