Monday, February 21, 2011

U.S. Grants Relatives of Orlando Zapata Tamayo Visas to Emigrate as Refugees

U.S. Grants Relatives of Orlando Zapata Tamayo Visas to Emigrate as Refugees
Published February 19, 2011

Reina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, has repeatedly
said she will not leave Cuba without her son's ashes.

Relatives of deceased political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo received
this week visas permitting them to emigrate as political refugees to the
United States, a member of the family told EFE Friday.

Reina Maria Ortiz Tamayo, Orlando Zapata's sister, said that 13 family
members received visas on Tuesday from the U.S. Interests Section in
Havana, and must now undertake "other procedures to see what happens."

"We don't have money for traveling," Ortiz said on the phone from her
home in the eastern town of Banes.

She also said that at present the family has no idea what is going on
with the process of disinterring the body of Orlando Zapata, who was
buried in the Banes cemetery after dying behind bars in February 2010
following a hunger strike.

Last October the Cuban government, through the Catholic Church, offered
the Zapata Tamayo family the chance to leave Cuba.

But Reina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of the dead prisoner, said on several
occasions that she will not leave the country until she can take her
son's ashes with her.

She said last November that officials at the Public Health Ministry told
her that authorization existed for exhuming the remains of her son and
for cremating them, but apparently the exhumation process has been delayed.

Zapata's family also said that Reina Luisa Tamayo was arrested this
morning by State Security officials as she was leaving her house in Banes.

Some family members said that the woman is in confinement at a police
station, presumably for showing "disrespect" for the authorities.

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