In 2010 the European Parliament granted the Sacharov Prize (founded in 1988 to honour individuals or organisations fighting for human rights and freedom of thought) to Cuban freedom fighter Guillermo Fariñas. The authorities in Cuba prohibited Fariñas from travelling outside the country to the award ceremony. Therefore, at the event held in Strasbourg three years ago his absence was symbolised through an empty chair covered by the Cuban flag.
The travel ban against Guillermo Fariñas was lifted a few months ago, making it possible for him to take part on Tuesday, 2nd of July, at a non formal meeting with MEPs in Strasbourg. DAHR MEP Csaba Sógor was present at the event and congratulated the Cuban human rights activist and journalist on his activity and achievements. Fariñas did not choose exile after gaining his freedom; instead he continues to stand up for his values in spite of health and life threatening circumstances.
On Wednesday, at the EP plenary session, in the presence of his mother, Guillermo Fariñas could finally be handed the award for his exceptional efforts made for Cuban freedom rights. In his speech he mentioned the 11 years of imprisonment, the 23 hunger strikes, and the release of 114 political prisoners. Talking about the many anonymous martyrs he said that the road to democracy is long, and the struggle goes beyond the means of the Cuban people. Nevertheless it is a cause worth fighting for and they would fight for it. Politics in Cuba have not changed. Some opportunities such as the raising of the travel ban have only been achieved through civil insubordination.
Fariñas greeted the audience and the MEPs, expressing the belief that peaceful means will have results, saying that „even though the road to democracy is long, the dawn is just rising in Cuba” and that the power of democracy will sometime reach his country as well.