Political dissident Zapata is buried in Cuba

A Cuban dissident whose death this week following a two-and-a-half-month hunger strike sparked worldwide condemnation, was buried on Thursday by a circle of close friends and family members, his mother told AFP.

“We just finished burying him, and many of his brothers (fellow dissidents) joined us,” said Reina Luisa Tamayo, 60, the mother of deceased political activist Orlando Zapata.

Tamayo said her son, a long-time opponent of the Communist regime, was buried in the family’s home-town of de Banes, 830 kilometers (500 miles) east of Havana, in a ceremony attended by dozens of loved ones and supporters.

Zapata’s grieving mother said the funeral procession and burial took place — under police escort — a few kilometers (miles) from the family home in the eastern province of Holguin.

“We wanted to carry my son to the cemetery but we couldn’t, so his body was taken to the funeral by hearse,” she said.

Zapata’s death on Tuesday after an 85-day hunger strike has drawn international outrage, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying Wednesday that Washington was “deeply distressed.”

The long-time political activist, who was designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, had been in jail since 2003.

Reports said police detained dissidents across the country to prevent protests ahead of his funeral.

President Raul Castro said in a statement that he “regrets” Zapata’s death, but denied there was repression in the only single-party Communist state in the Americas.

“There are no tortured people, there were no tortured people, there was no execution,” Castro, 78, told reporters. “That is what happens at (the US naval base in) Guantanamo.”

But Zapata’s mother had a different version of events.

“My son was tortured the whole time he was in prison,” Tamayo charged in a video posted on the blog Generacion Y, a site run by award-winning independent journalist Yoani Sanchez, in defiance of Havana’s tightly controlled state media.

Read more at rawstory.com.

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~ by Rafael Martel on February 25, 2010.

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