Dying with dignity by Teodoro Petkoff

February 27, 2010

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?

26 Responses to “Dying with dignity by Teodoro Petkoff”

  1. devilsexcrement.com’s done it once again! Superb post!

  2. If only I had a dime for every time I came here… Great writing.

  3. bjohns15 Says:

    I just railed at Da Silva. He said, in response to questions of Tamayo:

    “A citizen that undertakes a hunger strike is exercising a choice. In my opinion, the wrong choice.”

    Puh lease! What a coward:


  4. bjohns15 Says:

    Hey can we get Zapata Tamayo Shirts, to show these bastards(all of Latin Americas’ leaders, almost) that he deserves more respect than all of them combined?

  5. moctavio Says:

    Arturo: The last one was erased on purpose: Off Topic, insulting, threatening and swear words. Yes, many people have a name like Arturo, I don’t know if you are one or the other, you use multiple IP’s, how can I know? The comment seemed as infantile and typical of you, as usual. Did no erase one because it was the first of the day.

    Yes, Arturo the Troll, this is my blog, you want to make four or five empty comments for each post, sorry, I am tired of your emptiness and you not reading the posts. Others have noticed it, too, weird.

    How is Eva?

  6. loroferoz Says:

    Lemma: Socialism is Slavery.

    Corollary: The rebellious (those that want to escape, that protest, that raise the voice and the head) suffer the cruel punishments reserved in by slave masters through the ages for these recalcitrant slaves that do not know their place.

    Now, that said, Zapata died a free man.

  7. Kepler Says:

    I got it now, El Universal.
    Let’s see how this evolves. Hopefully we get to know more than what happened to “our” Venezuelan plane in Mali.

  8. moctavio Says:

    It will be announced tomorrow, the guy was spying on everyone on both sides.

  9. GWEH Says:

    Kepler, because the media is muzzled and controlled? The news is out for those that want to know… look for it.

    This is MAYOR news yet few pick up on the importance… good eye Kepler.

  10. Kepler Says:

    I am not a fan of Petkoff, but: what do you think Petkoff’s intentions are?
    Do you think he still is just “a communist in disguise”?
    This may seem irrelevant as what matters if the results, but I find it difficult to believe in that. It sounds too “conspiracy theory” to me.

  11. firepigette Says:

    The current crop of LA leaders subscribes to the idea that LA’s underdevelopment is to be blamed on US ” exploitation”.

    Historically Castro is put on a pedestal for being the first to lead the way in ‘shaking off the chains’ imposed by the US

    At a less extreme level LA leaders show their credentials by saying ” NO ” to the US as much as possible.Doing otherwise puts them under suspicion of still being a ” lackey of the US”( like Uribe).

    Never mind that Cuba has gone economically backwards after the Revolution instead of advancing when they got rid of the “exploitation”.
    Nowadays this can be attributed to the US embargo and if that were to be lifted , you can be sure they will find another excuse.Those who elaborate mythologies have never lacked in creativity.

    As for human rights, surely those who have attained such great revolutionary achievements and are still inspiring emancipation of LA peoples must be cut some slack.

  12. firepigette Says:

    to Caracas Gringo:

    Belief in Petkoff by some goes beyond the rational mind – it is one more on the ” fact list” of the leftish establishment in Venezuela: therefore few people will believe you on this one despite all logical speculation.It has been established by too many ‘elites’ to just poo poo the idea of his respectability.Once someone becomes part of an establishment, the authoritarian mindset refuses to see it independently.Some will however take a second look, and that second look no matter if it is just one person, will make a difference.

    I believe you however based on my own intuition and also on my own experience.I knew his wife.

  13. Steven Says:

    Quico, I agree with Eric. Whatever case can be made for the aims of the IRA, the hunger strikers had been convicted of criminal acts, not for their political demands. Bobby Sands was in possession of weapons that had been used in attacks. Petkoff’s editorial is powerful enough without bringing that up.

  14. Antonio Says:

    It is not the subject of this post, but I would like make a comment about a big difference between Chavez compares with Lula and Uribe.

    Lula and Uribe will leave their presidencies soon. With their popularities near 70% they do no call for “Original Politics Constituent” to change the rules of the democracy, as they received it, to maintaining their selfs in the power. They prefer rely on the system that in the “caudillo”. Uribe accepted the sentence of the Colombian Supreme Court.

    I personally not like as individuals these two, they have their shadows, too. But this is a good example about the health of the democracy in Colombia and in Brasil, and the big distance to where Chavez and the ex-venezuela are.

  15. moctavio Says:

    Adolfo : Just because you believe the official line, you dont have to repeat this garbage here. Zapata was arrested for three months and freed. After he was released he joined a movement for democracy and was jailed together with dozens of dissidents while in a hunger strike. He was sentenced to 36 years years in prison. So, please HOLD THE BULLSHIT.

  16. Adolfo Says:

    He entered jail as a common criminal. How did a man who broke into homes to steal become a dissident? But in any case give up the five heroes and Cuba will send them all(dissidents) to the USA.

  17. Kepler Says:

    I would wear a T shirt with Zapata’s image and next to him castro’s and che’s: these blokes killed him.
    The che guevara t shirts of the eurokinder really make me sick.

    Gweh, those are news! Why don’t we hear anything about that detention in the Venezuelan press?

  18. Caracas Gringo Says:

    There is nothing whatsoever dignified about dying of starvation. It is a slow, horrible, painful and, in the end, undignified death. And it is entirely preventable. Now Petkoff writes an editorial sharing with us a personal anecdote that dates from the late 1970s, apparently? Why didn’t Petkoff cndemn the Castro regime two decades ago when he learned how Havana was thinking of keeping Matos in prison another two decades, illegally and cruelly. What a dirt-bag hypocrite, how typical of that peculiar aberration of humanity that entertains radical communist notions….Beneath Petkoff’s oh-so-carefully cultivated public persona as a European-style moderate socialist lives an unrepentant and unapologetic radical communist who always ALWAYS has been an apologist for the worst excesses of the Castro and Chavez regimes. Very very few in the so-called ‘oppo’ have done more than Petkoff to maintain Chavez in the catbird seat.

  19. GWEH Says:

    Luis is one of those guy you don’t want to cross for he does not forget nor forgive. He’s one of the worst characters in the regime. The Cubans are really doing Chavez a favor.

    Most of us got our introduction to Luis when he was director of ONA and a DC-9 full of cocaine departed Maiquetia for Mexico in what became a record bust. Luis took the media spotlight to say the DC-9 never loaded the cocaine in Ccs (under his watchful nose).

  20. Eric Says:

    Good one, Teo, but leave the moral equivalency at the door, will you?

    The IRA was a terrorist organization. They KILLED people, innocent civilians.

    OZT was an innocent, a defenseless prisoner of conscience.

    How dare you draw a parallel between Margaret Thatcher and England in the 70s and 1980s with Raul Castro and the Cuba of the past 50 years.

    Sometimes, despite all the self-righteous bluster and pious crusading, you just can’t help but show your true colors, can you.

  21. GWEH Says:

    OT: how the shit is hitting the fan… Luís Correa, director de Inteligencia Técnica de la Disip esta preso en la DIM. Luis is concunado de Jesse Chacon. Former head of ONA. Mystery Man. Drug Lord. The Cubans are doing some housecleaning.

    Luis was in The Empire not too long ago with his lovely wife celebrating a romantic valentines. Was he travelling with a valid visa or fake passport?

  22. Carlos Says:

    May Orlando Zapata long be remembered, and a lesson to us all who freely give power to the state to rule our lives.
    Lest we all become slaves sooner or later, we must roll back the power of the state everywhere. Most of the things we empower the state to do for us, it can not do, simply because it is not in its power to do so. It is in the power of us acting collectively as a really free market for innovation, goods and services that such problems are best solved in a dynamic, ever changing. ever shrinking and interconnected world.
    Most heads of government today are statists ready to crush anyone and anything that stand in their way. Witness the Honduran constitution and its defenders.

  23. El Chó Says:

    The other day I saw a man wearing a T-shirt with the image of El Ché and the words “Question Authority” on it. My first thought was “does this guy know that one of Ché’s many jobs in Cuba was to kill anyone who dared question Castro’s authority?”

    The near absolute lack of capacity for rationality of the people who support monsters like Castro and Ché is simply astonishing.

  24. firepigette Says:

    “anyone who dares to challenge the unlimited authority ”

    We have to see our lack in challenging authority inside ourselves (no matter how small it is within us) in order to prevent this type of government from getting too much power.If we don’t recognize its roots within us, authoritarianism will grow ,then creep up on us before we know it.

    Authoritarian type: “A personality pattern reflecting a desire for security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority, a conventional set of values or outlook, a demand for unquestioning obedience, and a tendency to be hostile toward or use as scapegoats individuals of minority or nontraditional groups.”

    Just because a person has a certain job, or a piece of paper declaring something to be true, or a degree in such and such,a fancy job, or more money than you, etc etc, does not give him more right to decide in your life than you have.Nothing gives him/her the right to more respect than you have a right to either.

    For a society to function we have to have some hierarchy obviously, but how we hold this in our minds , depends on the fundamental relationship we have with our own self- respect and the confidence than we( as individuals) can resolve our own issues.

    As children. we need authority to survive.As parents we need to be an authority for our children,

    however as adults( the state we need to be in most of the time), we are obligated to assume our own authority in our own lives in a mutually respectful way with others..

    If we do not, the consequences are an authoritarian society.

  25. Eric Lavoie Says:

    I hope that he will be rememberred by the world, especially the idiot that likes to paint Castro as a grafiti in my neighborhood.

  26. RWG Says:

    God bless Orlando Zapata Tamayo. May he have more influence on freedom with his death than he did in life.

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