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Hunger striker quits bid for Internet access

A Cuban dissident demanding unfettered access to the Internet ended a seven-month hunger strike on Thursday after fellow dissidents convinced him to give up.

Guillermo Farinas, 43, a psychologist and opposition journalist, was on an intravenous drip, but he had lost so much weight that his life was at risk, fellow dissident Idania Yanez said.

"He was critical and we asked him to stop," she said in the central Cuban town of Santa Clara, where Farinas began his protest January 31 to press Cuba's communist authorities to allow him Internet access, which is controlled by the government.

Farinas demanded that his right to freedom of information be respected by President Fidel Castro's government.

Dissident leaders Martha Beatriz Roque and Bertha Antunez were instrumental in convincing Farinas to save his life, said Yanez, coordinator of a local feminist group.

Cuba, like China, controls access to Internet. Direct access to the World Wide Web is generally only available to government-approved individuals, though passwords can be purchased on the black market.

The Cuban government says Internet access is restricted due to limited bandwidth available. Havana blames U.S. economic sanctions that bar Cuba from hooking up to submarine fiber optic cables and force the country to use costly satellite communications for Internet traffic.

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