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Wilmar_Villar_Mendoza.jpgA 31-year-old jailed dissident, Wilmar Villar Mendoza, has died in eastern Cuba from the effects of a 56-day hunger strike and what fellow opposition activists believe was mistreatment by the Cuban government, according to a human rights activist.

Villar launched his hunger strike shortly after he was arrested in November, put on trial and sentenced to four years in prison for crimes including disobedience, resistance and crimes against the state, said Elizardo Sanchez of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights.

He said Villar had joined an opposition group called the Cuban Patriotic Union in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba last summer and had been an active dissident since then.

He was placed in solitary confinement, which, combined with his hunger strike, caused serious health problems that led to his death on Thursday, Sanchez told Reuters.

He was taken to a hospital in Santiago de Cuba on 14 January as his condition deteriorated and died there.

"We hold the Cuban government categorically responsible because he died under their care. We consider this another avoidable death," Sanchez said.

Cuba drew international condemnation when another imprisoned dissident, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died in February 2010 following an 85-day hunger strike.

The Cuban president, Raúl Castro, said Zapata was a common criminal, but his death is believed to have contributed to Castro's decision in the summer of 2010 to release 130 political prisoners in a deal brokered by the Roman Catholic church.

Zapata was classified a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International but Villar's case has drawn little attention.

The Cuban government has not yet commented on Villar's death, but pro-government blogger Yohandry announced it in his blog, saying "the delinquent Wilmar Villar Mendoza died".

He predicted the death would bring criticism of Cuba from opponents of the Cuban government in the US.

"The scavengers are beginning to arrive. Another campaign against Cuba starts to take off," he wrote.

The dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez tweeted the news of Villar's death and asked "How many more have to die? How many more?"

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/20/cuban-dissident-dies-hunger-strike

Tag(s) : #Amérique du Nord