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Castro Blames U.S. for Death of Cuban Political Prisoner

After 85 days on hunger strike, Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on Tuesday in a Havana prison where he had been held since 2003.

Tamayo was in the midst of a 36-year sentence for crimes including “disrespect, public disorder, and resistance,” according to the independent Cuban Human Rights Commission, and launched the hunger strike in protest to poor prison conditions.

Mr. Tamayo’s death came while Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was visiting Cuba to inaugurate an US$800 million investment.

While standing alongside Mr. Lula da Silva, Cuban President Raul Castro was asked about the death of Orlando Tamayo by Brazilian reporters.

“We regret it very much. That’s the result of relations with the United States,” President Castro said, referring to Havana’s belief that Cuban dissidents are U.S. agents working to destabilize the communist government.

“We didn’t murder anyone here, no one was tortured. That happens at the Guantanamo base, not in our territory,” Castro said.

According to the Associated Press, Orlando Tamayo is the first Cuban activist to die on an anti-government hunger strike in nearly 40 years.

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