Kasparov, Dominguez Speak Out As Arrested Cuban GM Starts Hunger Strike
Left image: still video/OK Diario. Right image: Facebook.

Kasparov, Dominguez Speak Out As Arrested Cuban GM Starts Hunger Strike

| 191 | Chess Event Coverage

Cuba's top grandmasters GM Lazaro Bruzon and GM Leinier Dominguez as well as GM Garry Kasparov have spoken out in support of Cuban-Spanish GM Arian Gonzalez, who is on a hunger strike after being detained by Cuban authorities for participating in an anti-government protest.

The 32-year-old Gonzalez, Cuban-born but now a Spanish national, was one of many protesters who was arrested on July 11, 2021, during massive anti-government protests in Cuba. Before his arrest (visible in a video here), Gonzalez could be heard in the street in Camajuani shouting phrases like "Down with the dictatorship," "Long live free Cuba," and "We must support the brave people who are demonstrating today."

Both a lawyer and a chess grandmaster, Gonzalez lives in Spain but traveled to Cuba in early July to take care of his diabetic mother. He is currently awaiting trial in La Pendiente Prison in the province of Villa Clara. Gonzalez is accused of public disorder and mass incitement, crimes for which he could receive a sentence of between three months and one year according to Cuban law.

Three days ago, he started a hunger strike to protest the lack of help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Spanish embassy in Cuba. According to OK Diario, the Spanish authorities have not yet contacted his family in Cuba or in Orense (Spain), where Gonzalez lives.

The only official body that seems to have acted so far is the Spanish Chess Federation (FEDA), which immediately contacted the Cuban Chess Federation upon hearing the news. In a statement, FEDA says it "wants the situation to be clarified as soon as possible and that Arian Gonzalez Perez [be] released immediately."

Gonzalez has received a lot of support from the chess community so far. Most prominently, 13th world champion Kasparov mentioned it on his Twitter account and called the "indifference" of the Spanish government "inexcusable."

Another prominent chess player who has provided solid support is Dominguez, the strongest Cuban-born grandmaster, now playing for the U.S. On Facebook, he writes that he usually doesn't comment on political matters on social media but that he needs to make an exception for this case.

Dominguez describes the Cuban government as "macabre," praises the protesters for standing up against it, and calls for their release. About Gonzalez, he writes: "In addition to being a brilliant and talented chess player, he is an excellent person, again, far from being a criminal, he is just at the other end, the good, of virtue and of decency."

Another strong Cuban grandmaster who moved to the U.S. years ago is Bruzon, who also has used Facebook to comment on the situation. Bruzon recalls that when GM Bobby Fischer was detained in Japan in 2004, his old rival GM Boris Spassky offered to be detained as well so that at least the two of them could play chess in prison. Bruzon is suggesting the same: "If Gonzalez has to go to prison for his way of thinking, I am willing to leave to Cuba and accompany him."

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