Sunday, February 28, 2010

Four days on, Cuban media confirm dissident's death

Posted on Sunday, 02.28.10
Four days on, Cuban media confirm dissident's death
The state-run Cuban media finally reported Saturday the death of
imprisoned hunger-striker Orlando Zapata.

HAVANA -- (AP) -- State media reported the death of a jailed, dissident
hunger striker on Saturday, acknowledging four days after the fact a
story that most Cubans had already heard through word of mouth.

Writing in the Communist Party daily Granma, a longtime government
essayist accused opposition groups and ``forces of the
counterrevolution'' of making a martyr out of Orlando Zapata when he was
actually a common criminal.

``Cuban mercenaries can be detained and tried according to applicable
laws -- in no country can you violate the law,'' Enrique Ubieta Gomez wrote.

Zapata died Tuesday after refusing solid food for weeks. Imprisoned in
2003 for disrespecting authority, he was eventually sentenced to 25
years for activism behind bars and was considered a ``prisoner of
conscience'' internationally.

Cuba tolerates no official opposition to its single-party communist
system and dismisses dissidents and political activists as paid agents
of Washington, out to topple the government.

Zapata was originally held in his native eastern Cuba before being
transferred to Havana and later hospitalized just before his death.

The case sparked international outcry and President Raúl Castro took the
unprecedented step of expressing public regret -- but denied that Zapata
was mistreated.

In Saturday's article, Ubieta Gomez wrote that foreign governments and
international media are exploiting the death to criticize Cuba.

He voiced similar complaints on a government website Thursday.

However, the Granma story was the first word of Zapata's death in the
mainstream Cuban press, which is entirely state-run.

Most Cubans had already heard the news through word on the street, U.S.
television broadcasts received via illegal satellite hookups or contact
with family and friends overseas.

Four days on, Cuban media confirm dissident's death - Americas - (28 February 2010)

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