Sakharov Prize winner: ‘Dictatorship is like an infection’

On July 3, 2013 renowned Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas finally received his Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament, in Strasburg almost three years after Havana lifted the travel ban that prevented him from collecting it in 2010.

“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.

In his speech the famous dissident drew parallels between Cuba and Belarus and mentioned his meetings with the people who struggled continue fighting against dictatorships.

“I met with Belarusian opposition leaders. We found a common language and agreed on cooperation. I was impressed by the feeling of brotherhood and fellowship we had at the meeting with Belarusians,” Charter’97 reports.

Considering the Belarusian regime as the last communist dictatorship of Europe Guillermo Fariñas called on MEPs not to tolerate it. He reminded about a danger of cooperation with authoritarian regimes comparing dictatorship with an infection which is easy to pass from one country to another.

Europe should not turn the blind eye to the authoritarian regimes not far from its borders and leave things to chance, he stressed.


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.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. The prize was set up in 1988 to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms.