Saturday, May 21, 2011

Family of dead Cuban hunger striker headed to U.S.

Family of dead Cuban hunger striker headed to U.S.
By Shasta Darlington, CNN
May 20, 2011 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a political prisoner who died after a long
hunger strike
13 members of his extended family are being allowed to go into exile in
the United States
The government has agreed to exhume Zapata's body so his mother can take
the ashes

Havana (CNN) -- The extended family of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban
political prisoner who died last year after a prolonged hunger strike,
will fly into exile in the United States on June 9, according to his mother.

"We have all the papers. We're traveling on the ninth," Reina Luisa
Tamayo told CNN on Friday in a telephone interview from her home in
Banes in eastern Cuba.

She said the Cuban government had agreed to exhume her son's body so
that she could take his ashes with her, one of the impediments to her
leaving sooner.

Zapata died in February 2010 after fasting for more than 80 days to
demand better prison conditions. Fellow dissident Guillermo Farinas then
launched his own hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners.

In a deal brokered by the Catholic Church and Spain, the Cuban
government eventually freed more than 100 prisoners, easing tensions
with dissidents in Havana.

But Zapata's family said they were still routinely harassed and bullied
when they walked to the cemetery in Banes every weekend.

Tamayo told CNN she would travel with 12 other relatives to the United
States as political refugees, but could not provide details about their
final destination.

She said the Cuban government is footing the bill for their flight and
the cost of all of the paperwork.

"But that's because they are the ones who are most interested in getting
rid of this mother whose son they assassinated," she said.

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