Hunger striker in Cuba loses consciousness, is hospitalized

Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas, who has been refusing food and water for a week, lost consciousness and was rushed to a hospital Wednesday morning, one of his supporters reported.

Fariñas was in his home in Santa Clara, praying with visiting supporters, when he "suffered a strong pain in his chest and lost consciousness,'' said Licet Zamora Carrandi, who described herself as a spokeswoman.

"Several people rushed into the street, flagged down a car and took him to the hospital,'' Zamora said. Fariñas was still unconscious when he was put aboard the car, she added.

There was no immediate word on his status at the hospital, Zamora said by phone from Fariñas' home.

Ismel Iglesias, a dissident physician who checked on Fariñas, believed the loss of consciousness was the result of low blood sugar, she added.

Fariñas was one of five Cuban dissidents -- the other four are in prison -- who launched hunger strikes last week to protest the death of jailed hunger striker Orlando Zapata and demand the release of all political prisoners. Fariñas also has called for the release of some two dozen political prisoners reported to be in ill health,

The 48-year-old psychologist and independent journalist also has stopped drinking water despite his poor health as a result of more than 20 previous hunger strikes.

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