Hunger strike in Cuba
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June 2015
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    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 Zapata
    Tamayo. This humble black native of Santiago de Cuba, dissident mason
    and plumber, died after carrying out an 86-day hunger strike in the
    prison 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 prisoner 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 freedom that individuals often choose a
    form of struggle that threatens their own lives. The option to abstain
    from eating food 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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