The EPP Group today called on EU Governments to maintain pressure on the Cuban regime and not upgrade relations with the island following the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a 42 year-old worker who died in prison after 85 days on hunger strike in protest against his arbitrary detention.
In plenary, José Ignacio Salafranca MEP, EPP Group spokesman in the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, demanded opposition to any change in relations with Cuba until a change of attitude by the Castro brothers' regime.
Salafranca used the words of Lisardo Sanchez, the President of the Cuban Human Rights and Reconciliation Commission, to condemn the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo: "This was an avoidable death and a cruel assassination disguised in judicial clothes".
Salafranca also asked the European Commission and the EU Member States "as the opinion of the Spanish EU Presidency is already well-known" if they think that "in these conditions it is still a priority to upgrade relations between the EU and Cuba".
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was arrested during the regime's heavy crackdown on human rights activists in 2003, the so-called 'Black Spring" when Castro's security forces arrested 75 dissidents and independent journalists who were condemned to prison sentences of 6 to 28 years. His mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo, is a member of the "Ladies in White" movement, which received the EP Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament.