The remains of a Cuban dissident who died following an 83-day hunger strike were exhumed for cremation Tuesday as his mother prepared to travel with the ashes and 12 family members to exile in Florida.
Reina Luisa Tamayo said relatives and some dissidents were at a cemetery in the eastern city of Banes when her son's remains were dug up, and she was traveling to the capital for the cremation
"This all very hard," she told The Associated Press by phone, "but we will get through it."
Orlando Zapata Tamayo was 42 when he died Feb. 23, 2010. In prison since 2003 on charges including disrespecting authority, he was the first jailed opposition figure to die after a hunger strike in nearly four decades, and his death was roundly condemned in Washington and Europe.
Cuba said at the time that its doctors did everything they could to keep Zapata alive. The government considers the island's small community of dissidents to be U.S.-backed mercenaries paid to destabilize the country.
Reina Luisa Tamayo was briefly detained this year around the anniversary of his death, but freed after about 12 hours.
She and 12 other relatives plan to fly to Thursday to the United States, which has offered them political refuge.