Cuba blamed for death of prisoner on hunger strike

Miami, Feb 19 (EFE).- A Cuban exile organization and relatives of a prisoner who died after 38 days on hunger strike in a prison on the communist island on Tuesday blamed the Cuban government for his death.

Roberto Antonio Rivalta, 46, was on hunger strike to protest his arrest on charges of robbery, which he always denied committing.

"The lifeless body of my brother cries out that they murdered him, that he died alone and without medical attention," Elienay Rivalta, who lives in South Florida, told Efe.

Rivalta died "innocent, demanding his freedom ... (and) without a trial because (the authorities) didn't have any evidence," she said.

Rivalta's family members are accusing Cuban prison authorities of depriving their loved one of water and not taking him to a hospital so that he could receive medical assistance.

"Prisoners and a guard who was passing as a prisoner called my mother and told her that the doctor" had recommended his transfer to a hospital "but that they were not going to do it," Elienay Rivalta said at a press conference in Miami.

Janisset Rivero, with the Directorio Democratico exile organization, told Efe that Rivalta was being held prisoner in a "solitary confinement cell" and that the authorities told the mother that "her son was going to be fine and that he was going to receive medical assistance," something they did not provide for him.

"Five days later he died," she said.

The Rivalta family, the Cuban activist said, "is not opposed to the regime" and therefore they did not file a complaint about the case or get in touch with the internal dissidence movement on the island, remaining confident that they would get a judicial resolution in the matter.