CARACAS, Venezuela — When it comes to hunger strikes, Venezuelan farmer and biologist Franklin Brito is something of an expert. He has staged at least one a year for the past six years, in protest of what he calls a government-backed invasion of his land in the southeastern state of Bolivar.
Now he is on a hunger strike again, but his protest is less visible. That is because he is virtually incommunicado on the 12th floor of the military hospital in Caracas, where he has been held against his will since Dec. 13, on the grounds that he is not responsible for his actions.
Human rights activists say his case is a prime example of what they call a government policy of criminalizing dissent.
On Tuesday, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, a branch of the Washington-based Organization of American States, will hold hearings on Venezuela, covering issues such as freedom of expression and the state's refusal to comply with Commission rulings and those of its sister body, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Brito's daughter Angela hopes to be there, although it is not certain her father's case will be mentioned.
"Franklin resumed his hunger strike a couple of weeks ago," Brito's wife Elena said. "The hospital director told the court [that ordered his detention] that he was well enough to be released, but the court said it was a judicial matter in which the director had no say."
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