El Nuevo Herald confirms that the U.S. is planning on sending Reina Luisa Tamayo to Arizona instead of Miami. In an interview with the paper, Reina Luisa states she wants to stay in Miami with the Cuban exile community, and that the ashes of her son, the martyred Orlando Zapata Tamayo, belong in Miami.
The mother of Zapata will be sent to Arizona
Juan Carlos ChavezReina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of the deceased Cuban opposition member Orlando Zapata Tamayo, confirmed on Thursday that officials from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in Havana informed her recently that they were planning to send her and her family to the state of Arizona this coming June 9th. The possibility of a different migratory destination in her case generated an immediate reaction from Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
“I have been in contact with the State Department to ask them to allow Reina Luis Tamayo to stay in Miami, ” Ros-Lehtinen declared in a press release. “Reina Luisa should not be sent to Arizona to be surrounded by people unfamiliar with her suffering and the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Cuba.”
Tamayo and 12 other family members who will accompany her will travel to the U.S. with the status of political refugees. The 62-year-old woman is waiting for all the necessary processes to be completed for her exit from Cuba. Ever since the Cuban government offered her permission to leave six months ago, she put as a condition the handing over of the ashes of her son, the opposition member Orlando Zapata, buried in Banes, a remote eastern town 850 kilometers from Havana.
Zapata died on February 23, 2010, after an 85-day hunger strike demanding better prison conditions.
In a telephone interview with El Nuevo Herald, Tamayo appeared surprised with the possibility that they would send her somewhere else, far from the exile community in South Florida.
“We know nothing of Arizona,” Tamayo said. “Everything that was talked about since the very beginning involved going to Miami, and now I receive this news that we are going to another state. Could it be that they don’t understand that this family needs to be in Miami?”
Tamayo made these declarations while on her way to Havana where she should arrive today (Friday) in the morning hours. In the Cuban capital, she explained, she will turn over copies of her passport and her family’s passports at the U.S. Interest Section.
“In addition, we want to have a conversation about this situation,” Tamayo said. “There is a need for us to stay in Miami because of all the efforts put forth by our brothers. The ashes of Orlando Zapata Tamayo should be there.”
In an attempt to accelerate her departure into exile, the Cuban government paid for the formalities and medical examinations of the Tamayo family. In late November, the authorities sent a forensic unit to exhume the body of Zapata. But the operation was delayed because the family still did not have the visas to enter the U.S. At this moment, they have the authorization from Washington.
Ros-Lehtinen added that Tamayo deserves to be surrounded by the people who have supported and sympathized with her suffering.
“Our community has lived in the flesh the opression of the communist Castro regime,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “We support Reina Luisa and all of those who struggle for liberty and democracy for the Cuban people.”