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Zapata Lives! The truth about the life and death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Cuban prisoner of conscience, murdered by the Raúl Castro regime
By Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger

Complete article by Reina Luia Tamayo Danger published in The Huffington Post on July 6, 2010: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/reina-luisa-tamayo-danger/zapata-lives_b_633003.html

Much has been said in the Cuban regime's official media about my son Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a young black man. Many lies have been told, and it has been said that my son was a criminal, and that he was not simply allowed to die. The truth is that my son was murdered. The truth is that my son was allowed to die on a hunger strike he held to demand respect for his rights, and to demand freedom for his people. Today, I would like to tell you just who Orlando Zapata Tamayo was: a defender of human rights, and my beloved son...


In Holguin, he suffered his last beatings, which were intended to end his life, on August 29, September 24, and October 26, of 2009. To demand respect for his rights, he carried out a water-only protest fast in intervals for 18 months. He would be shaved and have his hair cut only by force. He never wore a common prisoner's uniform, the uniform of a convicted criminal. While he was in Holguin Provincial Prison, State Security video taped him often.

He was sent to Kilo 8, the maximum security prison in Camagüey, where they stole his food upon arrival in order to force him to eat the prison food. They also forced him to dress as a common prisoner, while he had previously worn white at every prison he had gone through.

Zapata began his final hunger strike in order to demand respect for his rights as a political prisoner. He spent one month and three days on the floor. He was denied water for 18 days in an attempt to break his defiance, which provoked two heart attacks while still being held at Kilo 8. Afterwards he was transferred to the Prisoners Ward at Amalia Simoni Hospital. This is when his family was able to see him briefly. They only allowed him one bottle of water, but not the one from which he wanted to drink.

He was transferred to a so-called "Intensive Care Unit" that was cobbled together on the spot exclusively for him, and where he was kept under guard by armed soldiers. This all created a delay that caused his health to worsen. He had to be transferred to the Prisoners' Hospital at Combinado del Este Prison, where his health worsened to a critical point. The authorities knew that the goal was to murder him, to eliminate him. He was then transferred to Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital where he died on February 23, 2010 at approximately 3:30 p.m.

We, Zapata's family and friends, have suffered a great deal of repression since his death. My son died for the sake of his belief in freedom. We have been attacked by groups of people organized by State Security, who want to prevent us from marching to the cemetery after leaving Mass on Sundays. My son's tomb was desecrated by them, the police.

The Castro brothers try to intimidate us, but what they don't know is that this family has never been afraid. This family has never knelt to anyone. Now, with even greater courage, dignity, and principles, we will follow the ideas and words of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who was murdered, who was tortured, and who was denied water for 18 days in order to do away with him. But nobody was ever able to subjugate my son. He never knelt before the dictatorship. He never gave in, and he preferred to die rather than to live on his knees.

This is why we say: Zapata Lives! We shout it in the streets. We shout it wherever we may be. Zapata lives on in our hearts. His example guides the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom.


 

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