Jailed Cuban Dissident Dies After Hunger Strike A Cuban dissident imprisoned for seven years has died. Cuba's human rights community said Orlando Zapata Tomayo had been on a hunger strike for weeks before his death. He was arrested in 2003 on charges of disrespecting authority.
NPR logo

Jailed Cuban Dissident Dies After Hunger Strike

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124052218/124054678" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Jailed Cuban Dissident Dies After Hunger Strike

Jailed Cuban Dissident Dies After Hunger Strike

Jailed Cuban Dissident Dies After Hunger Strike

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/124052218/124054678" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A Cuban dissident imprisoned for seven years has died. Cuba's human rights community said Orlando Zapata Tomayo had been on a hunger strike for weeks before his death. He was arrested in 2003 on charges of disrespecting authority.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Nick Miroff reports from Havana on the man's death, and the fate of political prisoners under Raul Castro.

NICK MIROFF: About two and half months ago, he stopped eating. And by the time he was taken to a Havana hospital yesterday, it was too late.

MIROFF: (Foreign language spoken)

MIROFF: Elizardo Sanchez is the director of Havana's illegal but tolerated Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. He called Zapata's death an avoidable tragedy.

MIROFF: (Foreign language spoken)

MIROFF: The government could've saved Zapata with medical intervention, Sanchez said. But instead, they let him die, like a defenseless dog.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

MIROFF: Hello.

MIROFF: The phone in Sanchez's office was ringing all morning with calls from abroad, and reports of a new wave of detentions in eastern Cuba. Sanchez said about 20 other dissidents have been taken into custody since Zapata's death, in what he called an attempt to prevent any protests or other political activity surrounding the funeral.

MIROFF: (Foreign language spoken)

MIROFF: Under Cuban law, though, political opponents can be tried for a broad range of activities that are considered subversive. Barbara Estravao(ph) is a legal adviser to Cuban dissents.

MIROFF: (Foreign language spoken)

MIROFF: Following Zapata's death yesterday, the U.S. State Department released a statement, urging Cuba to free all political prisoners. American officials said they expressed concern about Zapata's deteriorating health during migration talks with Cuban authorities in Havana last week.

MIROFF: (Foreign language spoken)

MIROFF: For NPR News, I'm Nick Miroff in Havana.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.