Luarca on another hunger strike

Luis Luarca, the Cuban refugee that staged a three-week hunger strike earlier this year, wrote a letter to a United Nations organisation last week stating he had started another hunger strike.

The development occurred three days after Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin said the Department of Employment Relations had deemed there were employment opportunities available to Mr. Luarca, but that he was declining to accept those positions.

‘He’s not interested in pursuing those opportunities,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘He wants a job with the Government.’

Mr. Luarca’s letter announcing the new hunger strike was addressed to Katherine Sylvester, the Caribbean Assistant Officer at the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Washington, D.C.

The letter was copied to seven other people at the UNHCR as well as to many of Cayman’s top elected officials, civil servants and judiciary members.

It is not known at press time where Mr. Luarca is conducting his new hunger strike, but Royal Cayman Islands Police Service media spokesperson Deborah Denis said Mr. Luarca had not made an application to conduct the protest in a public place.

The last hunger strike, which was done in protest of what Mr. Luarca said was a lack of respect for human rights in Cuba and the Cayman Islands, was conducted on the lawn of the Glass House government administration building.

Mr. Luarca said he had tried not to go back on another hunger strike, but did so because he had achieved very little with the first one.

Among the complaints Mr. Luarca cited in his letter to Ms Sylvester was the fact he had not been granted legal aid to take his case of discrimination to court.

Mr. Luarca also claims there is a conflict of interest in the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee because Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin acts as chairman of that body.

He also complained that he has been unable to review the results of the investigation conducted into his original complaint made to the Human Rights Committee.

‘Why, if they really are trying to help me, do they not share with me the information they have received until now about my claims?’ he asked in his letter. ‘If I am allowed to know such information now, I can clarify any issue that may need to be clarified. After a decision is reached, then it will be more difficult for me to clarify any issue.’

Mr. Luarca also said the government has not told the press that he discovered that a Filipino has been employed for about a month as a security officer at the hospital, the position for which he applied and was denied.

Mr. Luarca believes he did not get that position because he was discriminated against.

When he started his last hunger strike, Mr. Luarca demanded an improvement in human rights conditions in Cuba and the Cayman Islands; a meeting with the Pope (which he latter dropped); and a monetary settlement for not being able to secure a job.

Mr. Luarca claims to have been a doctor in Cuba, but has been unable to provide the Cayman Islands government with any documentary substantiation proving that claim.

Mr. McLaughlin said there were still a couple of matters outstanding with regard to the Human Rights Committee’s investigation into Mr. Luarca’s complaint. However, he said he hoped the HRC’s report would be ready within the next couple of weeks.

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