Cuba: reaction to death of hunger striker
Padraig Reidy: reaction to hunger strike death of Cuban dissident
25 Feb 10

Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on Tuesday after over 80 days on hunger strike in prison.

Tamayo had been one of many dissidents, writers and journalists rounded up in Cuba’s “Black Spring” of 2003.

Raul Castro is said to be “lamenting” Tamayo’s death, but as with everything that happens in Cuba, the blame is being placed at the door of the United States.

Meanwhile, Spanish prime minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero engaged in rare condemnation of Cuba in the wake of Tamayo’s death, calling on the authorities to immediately release all political prisoners.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez managed to interview Tamayo’s mother, who said

I want to tell the world about my pain. I think my son’s death was a premeditated murder. My son was tortured throughout his incarceration. His plight has brought me great pain and has been excruciating for the entire family. Even, as he was transferred to this prison, he was first held in Camaguey without drinking water for 18 days. My son dies after an 86-day hunger strike. He is another Pedro Boitel for Cuba. [Pedro Luis Boitel died in 1972 during a hunger strike while serving a 10-year prison sentence in Cuba]

In the midst of deep pain, I call on the world to demand the freedom of the other prisoners and brothers unfairly sentenced so that what happened to my boy, my second child, who leaves behind no physical legacy, no child or wife, does not happen again. Thank you!

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By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.