HAVANA - An opposition political activist imprisoned since 2003 died yesterday after a lengthy hunger strike, members of Cuba’s human rights community said.
Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who was jailed on charges including disrespecting authority, died at a clinic at Havana’s Combinado del Este prison, according to Vladimiro Roca, a leading dissident who said he spoke to Zapata Tamayo’s family.
Zapata Tamayo, 42, was not among the island’s best-known dissidents. He was arrested in 2003 on charges of disrespecting authority, said Elizardo Sanchez, head of the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation based in Havana.
He was sentenced to three years in prison, which Sanchez said was lengthened to 25 years, in part because of his political activism while behind bars.
Sanchez said Zapata Tamayo staged a hunger strike for weeks before his death. His family first announced last week that prison doctors said he was gravely ill.
Relatives were transporting Zapata Tamayo’s remains to his hometown in Holguin Province, said Roca, a former fighter pilot and son of a legendary communist leader who served nearly five years in prison himself for his opposition political beliefs.