The death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo has been a terrible reminder of the backseat that human rights have taken in Latin America in the last few years. As the region’s Heads of State laughed and joked with Raul Castro in Cancun this man was dying in Cuba in his own personal fight for dignity. It is my hope that one day, history will judge Lula, Bachelet, Chavez and the rest under the proper light. They are guilty by their silence, by their diplomatic effort to ignore this terrible tragedy in the interest of good personal relations with the killers of Cuba. Hopefully, the next generation of the region’s leaders will be forced to respect human rights. It is hard to be optimistic, it appears as if we have learned very little about the ability of human beings to treat other human beings as animals when it suits their political purposes.
Dying with dignity by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual
Horror, shock and a deep sense of rejection and condemnation is all that can be expressed at the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban, bricklayer, black, political prisoner of a system to which the sacrifice of Zapata Tamayo undresses in all its infinite cruelty and inhumanity. The man died defending a single duty: to recognize his status as a political prisoner rather than infamy of being a common criminal. The appalling and outrageous adventures of his arrest and hunger strike are worthy of the universal history of infamy. Detained in the great raid of 2003 against 75 dissidents, he was initially sentenced to three years in prison, but then, due to his unwavering demand for respect for his human and political convictions additional convictions were accumulated against him, to take them to 32 years of prison. For anyone who finds this monstrosity hard to believe, I will remember an episode that I experienced personally. By the time Hubert Matos would have served his sentence to twenty years imprisonment, the Cuban ambassador in Venezuela then, Norberto Hernandez, told me that his government was considering an additional condemnation to give him an additional twenty years in jail. Given the anger that I expressed, about this barbarism, he went off the topic with what he thought was a witty comment. But now I see he was not joking. In the light of what has happened with Zapata Tamayo, I have no doubt that the Cuban government had in mind the idea of aberrantly condemning Hubert Matos twice for the same cause. Just as Thatcher, the Iron Lady implacable British conservative known for his fanaticism, who left two activists of the Irish IRA to die of hunger strikes, the regime of Fidel let Zapata Tamayo to die simply for not recognizing his right to be treated as a minimum like a human being. He was not even demanding his freedom; he just wanted to have his rights recognized as political prisoners.
Because under that brutal dictatorship, anyone who dares to challenge the unlimited authority of the senile satrap is treated as either being insane if not as a common criminal and condemned to brutal sentences.
And by the way, what’s happening with Franklin Brito?