A mother’s pain (Updated)

orlando zapata tamayo

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, 1967-2010

UPDATE (1:08pm): RTVE reports that there have been at least 25 arrests and/or detentions following the death of Tamayo Zapata for the purpose of preventing their attendance to his funeral.

This is not only outrageous but maddeningly infuriating.

Reina Luisa Tamayo speaks about the death of her son, political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo:

Video taken and posted by Yoani Sanchez.

UPDATE (1:45PM): Marc translated and posted an English transcript of the above video, right here.

More on Tamayo here.

From Uncommon Sense, the Democratic Directorate’s statement on the murder of Zapata Tamayo:

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a valiant defender of the liberty of the Cuban people, died today, murdered by the Castro regime which refused to guarantee respect for his basic rights. An Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Zapata Tamayo engaged in a hunger strike of over 80 days to demand such a guarantee and to protest against terrible mistreatment he suffered in the Communist regime’s prisons, including brutal beatings. Zapata Tamayo, who will be remembered as a giant of the Cuban resistance, had been unjustly imprisoned since March 20, 2003.

“The abuses committed against Orlando Zapata Tamayo prove that torture and terror are inflicted upon the Cuban people are official policy under the Castro regime. His death is evidence of the practice of state terrorism,” stated Janisset Rivero, Adjunct National Secretary of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

In October, 2009, Zapata Tamayo was brutally beaten by military personnel at Holguin provincial prison, causing an internal hematoma in his head so severe that Zapata Tamayo had to undergo surgery. He began his hunger strike on December 3, 2009, at Kilo 8 prison in Camagüey, classified in Cuba as employing a “maximum severity” prison regime. For 18 days, Major Filiberto Hernández Luis, the prison’s director, denied Zapata Tamayo drinking water, the only thing he was ingesting during the strike. The effect of this act of torture was to induce kidney failure. In mid-January, he was transferred to Amalia Simoni Hospital in the city of Camagüey, where he was left to languish nearly completely nude under intense air conditioning, causing him to contract pneumonia. Despite his critical health condition, the regime transferred him to the hospital at Combinado del Este prison, which did not have the equipment and conditions necessary to treat him.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate also underlines that this crime joins a long list of atrocities committed by the Castro brothers which include thousands of executions by firing squad and countless cases of unjust imprisonment of Cuban citizens.

Additionally, Cuban prisoners of conscience Ariel Sigler Amaya and Normando Hernández González are also unjustly imprisoned and in terrible health. Their cases require prompt support and solidarity from Cubans around the world and the international community.

“They finally murdered Orlando Zapata Tamayo. They finally finished him. My son’s death has been a premeditated murder. I thank all of those brothers who struggled not to allow my son to die. There has been another Pedro Luis Boitel in Cuba,” stated Reina Tamayo Danger to the Cuban Democratic Directorate. Boitel was a Cuban student leader who was unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime and died after a prolonged hunger strike in 1972.

The Cuban Democratic Directorate condemns this horrendous crime. We raise our voice to call for the condemnation of the Raúl Castro regime and those directly responsible for the death of this human rights defender for committing this crime against humanity.

Zapata Tamayo’s death will not be in vain. It will illuminate the path of Cuba’s civic resistance until the Cuban people achieve their freedom.

Update: Adding insult to injury, here’s this administration’s State Department’s bland, timid and weak response, in its entirety:

On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died following an eleven-week hunger strike. We are deeply saddened to learn of his death, and the U.S. Government extends its heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends, and supporters. Zapata was arrested in 2003 on charges of “contempt for authority.” While in Havana last week, the U.S. delegation for Migration Talks raised Zapata’s incarceration and poor health with Cuban officials and urged them to provide all necessary medical care.

Mr. Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death highlights the injustice of Cuba’s holding more than 200 political prisoners who should now be released without delay.

Pathetic. It’s almost an apology.

Maria Werlau, of The Cuba Archive shows the State Department what a real response to the murder of a prisoner of conscience should be:

Political prisoner’s death highlights barbaric conditions and an alarming death toll in Cuba’s prisons

February 23, 2010, Summit, New Jersey. Orlando Zapata Tamayo died today in a Havana at age 42 after a hunger strike of over 80 days. He had chosen this extreme method of protest to demand respect for his personal safety after enduring numerous beatings and tortures at the hands of Cuban prison authorities. He sought to be recognized as a prisoner of conscience, requesting similar conditions as those under which Fidel Castro had been held for a year and a half during the Batista regime.

Zapata was a member of several opposition groups calling for democracy in Cuba by peaceful means. He had been incarcerated for four months from December 2002 to March 2003, accused by Cuba’s political police of “disrespect.” Just thirteen days later, he was again apprehended while participating in a fast with other former political prisoners in what became known as the Black Spring clampdown against 75 dissidents around the country. In May of 2004 he was sentenced to 36 years of prison for contempt, public disorder, and disobedience. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. Last December 9th, Zapata went on hunger strike to demand proper treatment. Prison authorities refused him water for 18 days, leading to kidney failure. He was then held naked over a powerful air conditioner and developed pneumonia. Earlier today and already in critical condition, he was admitted to Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in Havana and began receiving fluids intravenously. He died hours later. The Cuban government never responded to his demands.

Cuba Archive has documented eleven other cases of death by hunger strike in protest of prison conditions under the Castro regime: Roberto López Chávez, 12/11/1966, Luis Álvarez Ríos, 8/9/1967, Carmelo Cuadra Hernández, 7/21/1969, Pedro Luis Boitel, 5/25/1972, Olegario Charlot Spileta, 1/15/1973, Enrique García Cuevas, 5/23/1973, Reinaldo Cordero Izquierdo, 5/21/1975, José Barrios Pérez, 9/22/1977, Santiago de Jesús Roche Valle, 9/8/1985, Nicolás González Regueiro, 9/16/1992, and Miguel López Santos, 4/1/2001. From 2005 to today, 97 documented deaths of prisoners in Cuba have resulted from extrajudicial killings by guards, suicide or alleged suicides, and lack of medical care. This information is generally obtained from political prisoners held in the same facilities, so only a fraction of prisons are reported on and many more deaths are feared. Users may register at no cost at www.CubaArchive.org/database to access Cuba Archive’s electronic database of documented cases of death and disappearances resulting from the Cuban Revolution. For all documented deaths from hunger strike, enter the names above into the database or conduct an Advanced Search by selecting “hunger strike” in Cause of Death criteria

Barbaric prison conditions lead to systematic malnourishment, severely deteriorated health, acts of self-aggression and extreme suffering of prisoners and their loved ones. Over 200 political prisoners are held with tens of thousands incarcerated for “economic crimes” after resorting to the black market for basic sustenance that failed central planning cannot provide. The Red Cross and other international human rights’ monitoring groups are not allowed to inspect Cuba’s prisons.

Cuba Archive calls on all governments, institutions, and people of goodwill to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its crimes and to help the Cuban people attain their intrinsic right to live safely and in freedom. At minimum, inspection of Cuban prisons should be undertaken by the Red Cross, United Nations representatives and reputable members of the international human rights’ community without prior notice so the Cuban regime may not fake actual conditions.

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7 thoughts on “A mother’s pain (Updated)

  1. Our friend Maria Werlau has the whole story on the Tamayo MURDER, with some details that surprised me. He was actually arrested BEFORE Black Spring. Maria also documents some of Tamayo’s brothers-in-martyrdom over the decades:

    “Political prisoner’s death highlights barbaric conditions and an alarming death toll in Cuba’s prisons

    February 23, 2010, Summit, New Jersey. Orlando Zapata Tamayo died today in a Havana at age 42 after a hunger strike of over 80 days. He had chosen this extreme method of protest to demand respect for his personal safety after enduring numerous beatings and tortures at the hands of Cuban prison authorities. He sought to be recognized as a prisoner of conscience, requesting similar conditions as those under which Fidel Castro had been held for a year and a half during the Batista regime.

    Zapata was a member of several opposition groups calling for democracy in Cuba by peaceful means. He had been incarcerated for four months from December 2002 to March 2003, accused by Cuba’s political police of “disrespect.” Just thirteen days later, he was again apprehended while participating in a fast with other former political prisoners in what became known as the Black Spring clampdown against 75 dissidents around the country. In May of 2004 he was sentenced to 36 years of prison for contempt, public disorder, and disobedience. Amnesty International recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. Last December 9th, Zapata went on hunger strike to demand proper treatment. Prison authorities refused him water for 18 days, leading to kidney failure. He was then held naked over a powerful air conditioner and developed pneumonia. Earlier today and already in critical condition, he was admitted to Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in Havana and began receiving fluids intravenously. He died hours later. The Cuban government never responded to his demands.

    Cuba Archive has documented eleven other cases of death by hunger strike in protest of prison conditions under the Castro regime: Roberto López Chávez, 12/11/1966, Luis Álvarez Ríos, 8/9/1967, Carmelo Cuadra Hernández, 7/21/1969, Pedro Luis Boitel, 5/25/1972, Olegario Charlot Spileta, 1/15/1973, Enrique García Cuevas, 5/23/1973, Reinaldo Cordero Izquierdo, 5/21/1975, José Barrios Pérez, 9/22/1977, Santiago de Jesús Roche Valle, 9/8/1985, Nicolás González Regueiro, 9/16/1992, and Miguel López Santos, 4/1/2001. From 2005 to today, 97 documented deaths of prisoners in Cuba have resulted from extrajudicial killings by guards, suicide or alleged suicides, and lack of medical care. This information is generally obtained from political prisoners held in the same facilities, so only a fraction of prisons are reported on and many more deaths are feared. Users may register at no cost at http://www.CubaArchive.org/database to access Cuba Archive’s electronic database of documented cases of death and disappearances resulting from the Cuban Revolution. For all documented deaths from hunger strike, enter the names above into the database or conduct an Advanced Search by selecting “hunger strike” in Cause of Death criteria

    Barbaric prison conditions lead to systematic malnourishment, severely deteriorated health, acts of self-aggression and extreme suffering of prisoners and their loved ones. Over 200 political prisoners are held with tens of thousands incarcerated for “economic crimes” after resorting to the black market for basic sustenance that failed central planning cannot provide. The Red Cross and other international human rights’ monitoring groups are not allowed to inspect Cuba’s prisons.

    Cuba Archive calls on all governments, institutions, and people of goodwill to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its crimes and to help the Cuban people attain their intrinsic right to live safely and in freedom. At minimum, inspection of Cuban prisons should be undertaken by the Red Cross, United Nations representatives and reputable members of the international human rights’ community without prior notice so the Cuban regime may not fake actual conditions.?”

  2. A mis Hermanos Muertos el 27 de Noviembre

    Cadáveres amados los que un día
    Ensueños fuistes de la patria mía,
    ¡Arrojad, arrojad sobre mi frente
    Polvo de vuestros huesos carcomidos!
    ¡Tocad mi corazón con vuestras manos!
    ¡Gemid a mis oídos!
    ¡Cada uno ha de ser de mis gemidos
    Lágrimas de uno más de los tiranos!
    ¡Andad a mi redor; vagad en tanto
    Que mi ser vuestro espíritu recibe,
    Y dadme de las tumbas el espanto,
    Que es poco ya para llorar el llanto
    Cuando en infame esclavitud se vive!

    Y tú, Muerte, hermana del martirio,
    Amada misteriosa
    Del genio y del delirio,
    Mi mano estrecha, y siéntate a mi lado;
    ¡Os amaba viviendo, mas sin ella
    No os hubiera tal vez idolatrado!

    En lecho ajeno y en extraña tierra
    La fiebre y el delirio devoraban
    Mi cuerpo, si vencido, no cansado,
    Y de la patria gloria enamorado.
    ¡El brazo de un hermano recibía
    Mi férvida cabeza,
    Y era un eterno, inacabable día,
    De sombras y letargos y tristeza!

    De pronto vino, pálido el semblante,
    Con la tremenda palidez sombría
    Del que ha aprendido a odiar en un instante,
    Un amigo leal, antes partido
    A buscar nuevas vuestras decidido.
    La expresión de la faz callada y dura,
    Los negros ojos al mirar inciertos,
    Algo como de horror y de pavura,
    La boca contraída de amargura,
    Los surcos de dolor recién abiertos,
    Mi afán y mi ansiedad precipitaron.
    -¿Y ellos? ¿Y ellos? mis labios preguntaron;
    -¡Muertos! me dijo: ¡muertos!
    Y en llanto amargo prorrumpió mi hermano,
    Y se abrazó llorando con mi amigo,
    Y yo mi cuerpo alcé sobre una mano,
    Viví en infierno bárbaro un instante,
    Y amé, y enloquecí, y os vi, y deshecho
    En iras y en dolor, odié al tirano,
    Y sentí tal poder y fuerza tanta,
    Que el corazón se me salió del pecho,
    Y lo exhalé en un ¡ay! por la garganta!

    Y víme luego en el ajeno lecho,
    Y en la prestada casa, y en sombría
    Tarde que no es la tarde que yo amaba.
    ¡Y quise respirar, y parecía
    Que un aire ensangrentado respiraba!
    Vertiendo sin consuelo
    Ese llanto que llora al patrio suelo,
    Lágrimas que después de ser lloradas
    Nos dejan en el rostro señaladas
    Las huellas de una edad de sombra y duelo,
    ­Mi hermano, cuidadoso,
    Vino a darme la calma, generoso.
    Una lágrima suya,
    Gruesa, pesada, ardiente,
    Cayó en mi faz; y así, cual si cayera
    Sangre de vuestros cuerpos mutilados
    Sobre mi herido pecho, y de repente
    En sangre mi razón se obscureciera,
    Odié, rugí, luché; de vuestras vidas
    Rescate halló mi indómita fiereza …
    ¡Y entonces recordé que era impotente!
    ¡Cruzó la tempestad por mi cabeza
    Y hundí en mis manos mi cobarde frente!

    Y luche con mis lágrimas, que hervían
    En mi pecho agitado, y batallaban
    Con estrépito fiero,
    Pugnando todas por salir primero;
    Y así como la tierra estremecida
    Se siente en sus entrañas removida,
    Y revienta la cumbre calcinada
    Del volcán a la horrenda sacudida,
    Así el volcán de mi dolor, rugiendo,
    Se abrió a la par en abrasados ríos,
    Que en rápido correr se abalanzaron,
    Y que las iras de los ojos míos
    Por mis mejillas pálidas y secas
    En tumulto y tropel precipitaron.

    Llore, llore de espanto y amargura:
    Cuando el amor o el entusiasmo llora,
    Se siente a Dios, y se idolatra, y se ora.
    ¡Cuando se llora como yo, se jura!

    ¡Y yo jure! Fue tal un juramento,
    ¡Que si el fervor patriótico muriera,
    Si Dios puede morir, nuevo surgiera
    Al soplo arrebatado de su aliento!
    ¡Tal fue, que si el honor y la venganza
    Y la indomable furia
    Perdieran su poder y su pujanza;
    Y el odio se extinguiese, y de la injuria

    Los recuerdos ardientes se extraviaran,
    De mi fiera promesa surgirían,
    Y con nuevo poder se levantaran,
    E indómita pujanza cobrarían!

    Sobre un montón de cuerpos desgarrados
    Una legión de hienas desatada,
    Y rápida y hambrienta,
    Y de seres humanos avarienta,
    La sangre bebe y a los muertos mata.
    Hundiendo en el cadáver
    Sus garras cortadoras,
    Sepulta en las entrañas destrozadas
    La asquerosa cabeza; dentro del pecho
    Los dientes hinra agudos, y con ciego
    Horrible movimiento se menea,
    Y despidiendo de los ojos fuego,
    Radiante de pavor, levanta luego
    La cabeza y el cuello en sangre tintos;
    Al uno y otro lado,
    Sus miradas estúpidas pasea,
    Y de placer se encorva, y ruge, y salta,
    Y respirando el aire ensangrentado,
    Con bárbara delicia se recrea.
    ¡Así sobre vosotros
    -Cadáveres vivientes,
    Esclavos tristes de malvadas gentes-,
    Las hienas en legión se desataron,
    Y en respirar la sangre enrojecida
    Con bárbara fruición se recrearon!

    Y así como la hiena desaparece
    Entre el montón de muertos,
    Y al cabo de un instante reaparece
    Ebria de gozo, en sangre reteñida,
    Y semeja que crece,
    Y muerde, y ruge, y rápida desgarra,
    Y salta, y hunde la profunda garra
    En un cráneo saliente,
    Y, al fin, allí se para triunfadora,
    Rey del infierno en solio omnipotente,
    Así sobre tus restos mutilados,
    Así sobre los cráneos de tus hijos,
    ¡Hecatombe inmortal, puso sedienta,
    Despiadada legión garra sangrienta!
    ¡Así con contemplarte se recrea!
    ¡Así a la patria gloria te arrebata!
    ¡Así ruge, así goza, así te mata!
    ¡Así se ceba en ti! ¡Maldita sea!

    Pero, ¿cómo mi espíritu exaltado,
    Y del horror en alas levantado,
    Súbito siente bienhechor consuelo?
    ¿Por qué espléndida luz se ha disipado
    La sombra infausta de tan negro duelo?
    Ni ¿que divina mano me contiene,
    Y sobre la cabeza del infame
    Mi vengadora cólera detiene? …

    ¡Campa! ¡Bermúdez! ¡Alvarez! Son ellos,
    Pálido el rostro, plácido el semblante;
    ¡Horadadas las mismas vestiduras
    Por los feroces dientes de la hiena!
    ¡Ellos los que detienen mi justicia!
    ¡Ellos los que perdonan a la fiera!
    ¡Dejadme ¡oh gloria! que a mi vida arranque
    Cuanto del mundo mísero recibe!
    ¡Deja que vaya al mundo generoso,
    Donde la vida del perdón se vive!

    ¡Ellos son! ¡Ellos son! Ellos me dicen
    Que mi furor colérico suspenda,
    Y me enseñan sus pechos traspasados,
    Y sus heridas con amor bendicen,
    Y sus cuerpos estrechan abrazados,
    ¡Y favor por los déspotas imploran!
    ¡Y siento ya sus besos en mi frente,
    Y en mi rostro las lágrimas que lloran!

    ¡Aquí están, aquí están! En torno mío
    se mueven y se agitan… -¡Perdón!
    -¡Perdón!
    -¿Perdón para el impío?
    -¡Perdón! ¡Perdón!-me gritan,
    ¡Y en un mundo de ser se precipitan!

    ¡Oh gloria, infausta suerte,
    Si eso inmenso es morir, dadme la muerte!

    -¡Perdón!-Así dijeron
    Para los que en la tierra abandonada
    Sus restos esparcieron!
    ¡Llanto para vosotros los de Iberia,
    Hijos en la opresión y la venganza!
    ¡Perdón! ¡Perdón! esclavos de miseria!
    ¡Mártires que murieron, bienandanza!
    La virgen sin honor del Occidente,
    El removido suelo que os encubre
    Golpea desolada con la frente,
    Y al no hallar vuestros nombres en la tierra
    Que más honor y más mancilla encierra,
    Del vértigo fatal de la locura
    Horrible presa ya, su vestidura
    Rasga, y emprende la veloz carrera,
    Y, mesando su ruda cabellera,
    -¡Oh-clama-pavorosa sombra obscura!
    ¡Un mármol les negué que los cubriera,
    Y un mundo tienen ya por sepultura!
    ¡Y más que un mundo, más! Cuando se muere
    En brazos de la patria agradecida,
    La muerte acaba, la prisión se rompe;
    ¡Empieza, al fin, con el morir, la vida!

    ¡Oh, más que un mundo, más! Cuando la gloria
    A esta estrecha mansión nos arrebata,
    El espíritu crece,
    El cielo se abre, el mundo se dilata
    Y en medio de los mundos se amanece.

    ¡Déspota, mira aquí cómo tu ciego
    Anhelo ansioso contra ti conspira:
    Mira tu afán y tu impotencia, y luego
    Ese cadáver que venciste mira,
    Que murió con un himno en la garganta,
    Que entre tus brazos mutilado expira
    Y en brazos de la gloria se levanta!
    No vacile tu mano vengadora;
    No te pare el que gime ni el que llora:
    ¡Mata, déspota, mata!
    ¡Para el que muere a tu furor impío,
    El cielo se abre, el mundo se dilata!

    José Julián Martí y Pérez. Madrid, 1872.

  3. Know what? This reminds me of how the regime in Iran handles their murders of protesters in the streets by stealing the bodies from the hospitals, and burying them in some secret area so there is no funeral or protests.

    Don’t look for anything from the State Dept. or the Obama White House. They’re on the side of the che-stro government.

  4. Let the record show: Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s most savage beatings came in Dec. when he requested from Castro’s henchmen the same prison privileges Castro had been granted by (the UNSPEAKBLE!!!) Batista.

    Thus started his hunger strike, reports blogger Enrisco. Is it any wonder Zapata-Tamayo so STUNG and ENRAGED the Castro regime?

    From Enrisco, here’s more details (in Spanish)of the ghastly tortures suffered by the heroic Tamayo:

    http://enrisco.blogspot.com/2010/02/asesinato.html

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