News and Facts about Cuba

To Die of Hunger

To Die of Hunger / Rosa Maria Rodriguez
Posted on June 13, 2015

This February 23 marks five years since the death of Orlando
Tamayo. This humble black native of Santiago de Cuba, mason
and plumber, died after carrying out an 86-day hunger strike in the
where he was being held, as an act of protest against the
conditions of his imprisonment.

His death garnered wide media coverage because of the contradictory and
controversial list of reasons that the Cuban government publicized
against Zapata to fend off the accusations of abuse and medical neglect
put forth by his family and the opposition. The official media deny that
the matter involved a political dissident, but rather, that Zapata was a
common criminal.

However, the 2003 book, “The Dissidents,” by Rosa Miriam Elizalde and
the recently deceased Luis Baez, had already included Zapata’s name and
photo as a member of the opposition movement–and also, before his death,
Amnesty International had declared him a of conscience.

There are two constants of dictatorial regimes: that they invariably
have powerful enemies as well as political prisoners. The latter are
associated with the former, even if they are only peaceful compatriots
and are engaging in independent discourse. Any pretext is valid so long
as they can stay in power. This is why, five years after the martyrdom
of Orlando Zapata, there are still political prisoners in our jails,
even though the authorities insist that they are common convicts.

It is because of living without that individuals often choose a
form of struggle that threatens their own lives. The option to abstain
from eating is a decision that tends to be linked to the desire to
denounce unjust situations. A government composed of just persons should
attend to these claims, rather than victimize those who sacrifice
themselves and ask to be vindicated using fasting as a tool.

After 56 years of the Castro regime’s government, Cubans continue to
escape towards any geograpic coordinate. The lack of democracy and the
oppression during this government’s tenure has caused many to launch
themselves in the sea in migratory suicide missions–in which we know not
how many have lost their lives–just to satiate the hunger for freedoms
and rights that this society endures.

I pay homage to Orlando Zapata on the fifth anniversary of his
departure–and also to the people of Cuba, who for decades have been
longing for full and complete respect for their rights, and whose
abusive and stagnant government causes them to die a little of hunger
every day.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

25 February 2015

Source: To Die of Hunger / Rosa Maria Rodriguez | Translating Cuba –

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