The Agony of Zapata Tamayo

Flight: by Noel del Rosal Ortiz

The subject which I am writing about today is not a matter of affinity for one ideology or another; after all, men die and ideas endure.  But it is indispensable to get to the human root of those who hold the power and responsibility to determine the outcome of the future of one man.  For several weeks now, the political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo has taken part in a hunger strike that could have unpredictable results on the fate of his health.  It is about one man, considered a modest person by those who know him, who is courageous and capable of facing even the ultimate consequences for the respect of others and in defense of the fundamental rights of a human being.  In this very moment, Zapata Tamayo resides in a hospital ward in the prison known as Combinando East, according to my friend.

This terrible story began back in the Black Spring of 2003 when, although he should have been considered one of the political prisoners arrested in the group of 75, Zapata Tamayo was not given the “privilege” of being part of this “selective circle” because of astute maneuvers by the Cuban political police.  Now he finds himself between life and death; he is simply asking for decent and humane treatment.  The blame for the consequences of an ill-fated outcome will be on the consciences of the men who, hiding behind military uniforms, punish, torture, and beat fellow human beings already deprived of their freedom.

In the midst of the crisis which Cuba is living through — one of the most severe of its history — it has become common practice to go out of one’s way to use accumulated hate against convicts, especially against those who are political prisoners.  I demand, I scream, for someone to explain to me who granted those guards the right to hit this man who is peaceful by nature.  Perhaps they think they govern in the jungle?

This situation with Zapata Tamayo should serve as a call for reflection and a demand to the authorities in Havana to cease the hostilities against the peaceful dissidence.  On the other hand, infinite recognition should be given to those who remained, day and night, in the periphery of Amalia Simone Hospital, keeping vigil over the progression of the health of their brother in struggle, despite the extreme amount of vigilance by the Cuban Secret Intelligence Service.  It must be pointed out that we five political prisoners of conscience who find ourselves in the Canaleta prison in Ciego de Avila, are showing solidarity with Orlando Zapata and his family.  Those who are in power on this island still have time to respond positively to the demands of this sick dissident.  Hopefully tomorrow will not be too late.

From my point of view I see two options that respond to simple, but necessary, words during these moments: respect and tolerance.  Zapata Tamayo should live, for there is still a great deal that he can do for Cuba.

Pablo Pacheco Avila


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