Archive for April, 2010

Ana Belkis Ferrer García during the funeral of Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Spanish Post

The terrible and painful death of the political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo was not an isolated incident, nor something beyond the control of the regime, as some have said. Zapata’s death was something that was decided at the highest levels of Castroist power, in coordination with Villa Marista headquarters.

“Let’s get rid of this black man and his hunger strikes like we did with Pedro Luis Boitel. Let’s teach the activist cells and the Miami Mafia a lesson and then see what happens. And if we let this black man die what’s sure to happen is that the opposition activists will be frightened, and hold back a little, and stop using hunger strikes as an alternative form of protest,” his murderers must have calculated.

Sometimes certain media focus on this event in a somewhat simplistic and incomplete manner – “Prisoner Dies on Hunger Strike!” To those who do not live in Cuba, or do not know what it means to be in a Cuban prison and to carry out a hunger strike, it may seem that the strikers only suffer the effects of food deprivation, a conclusion very far from reality.

To declare a hunger strike in a Castro prison means facing, from the outset, a range of torture such as isolation from everything and everyone, extreme solitary confinement in a punishment cell without water, electric light, and in most cases without bedding, always without the possibility of covering up, and without access to anything or anyone.

“We do not give in to displays of force.” With these words they confront the hunger-striker with a demonstration of strength and power. It’s like saying: if you want your concern to be taken care of and for us to give you what you’re asking for, first you have to humble yourself before us, discontinue the hunger strike, and then we, under our own conditions, will decide how, when, and what we will do.

To receive any kind of medical care they also impose the same conditions. And that is why Zapata died, because just like Boitel, he did not yield in his position, he did not allow them to humiliate him, resisting for 18 days during which they denied him water. Resolutely facing the cold temperatures with his naked body, spending his nights on the ground. Zapata chose to sacrifice himself, in accordance with his manhood, his principles. As his compatriot expressed at the close of Zapata’s funeral, “He made the leap to immortality.” But Zapata was not killed just by totalitarian criminals, no. Zapata was also killed by the indifference and the complicit silence of those who should have advocated or interceded for his life. Zapata was killed by certain of the accredited foreign media in Havana, who though accurately and systematically informed about his case, lacked the courage and the human sensitivity to provide coverage, and were deaf to the cries and suffering of his mother Reina Luisa who so often called for public support. Orlando Zapata Tamayo was also killed by those who, in violation of their social, ethical, and humane obligations, refused to intercede with the government for his life. I refer to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Cuba, in the person of Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, who was asked to intervene by the Rosa Parks Women’s Movement for Civil Rights and other independent civil rights organizations in Cuba.

It is true that Cuba lost Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an irreparable loss that has shocked us all, but the Castro government lost the wider battle. The political cost is irreparable and irretrievable. At last, the world has turned to our suffering country and to those who fight for it. The example, sacrifice, and memory of the martyr endures and is multiplied every day in thousands and thousands of Cubans who continue his legacy, heroism and endurance. A moral blow to his murderers and the accomplices to the crime.

Translated by: Tomás A.


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Spanish Post

It is striking how, this time, the Castro regime with its extremely powerful propaganda machine has not mentioned its “victory” in the last “election” (read: votes, [as opposed to elections where one can choose]) of the so-called “Poder Popular” or Assembly of People’s Power. I say this because one of the premises of the Castro regime has always been to turn setbacks into victories, whether Pyrrhic or for the sake of deceiving themselves. These ballots were nothing other than that, a significant setback for Castroism.

I believe that such open rejection from important sectors of the population had never been seen before, especially from the youth, not only on the day ballots were to be cast, but days and weeks before.

– I am not going to vote
– They had better not waste their time going to my house.
– What’s more, it will not solve anything.

Those were phrases heard everywhere. They heralded this new failure, which was corroborated by:

– I didn’t go anywhere.
– I went but I deposited a blank ballot.
– I made incendiary comments on my ballot before depositing it.
– In my home no one went in for that.
– That’s what we need to do. Enough of being sheep.

Placetas is a town of about 50,000 inhabitants. It is the geographic center of Cuba and its people are proud, not only of its beautiful park full of laurel trees with its majestic and unique bandstand, but of being the land of Cesar Paez, of the Girl of Placetas, and Roberto Martín Pérez, and the popular artist Rosendo Rossel. They may be, among others, the reason why a large proportion of its children said no to the lie, and abstained, annulled their ballot or did not go to vote. Placetas said yes to change.

Many “placeteños” know that the fact they took the position they did was not an isolated incident because similar testimonies were heard throughout the entire island.

This time, the regime and its electoral campaign were almost ignored, and I say almost because only certain media, and this or that reporter, in their eagerness to report and be a part of a breaking news story, repeated what they said them and presented more news about an electoral farce with neither candidates nor informative programs, than about the repression itself.

This reminds me of what happened with the famous Juanes concert in the José Martí Civic Square: the concert made the major publishing houses and newspapers around the world but little or no ink was spilled for those of us being repressed or placed under house arrest to prevent us from reaching the Square.

Translated by: PitoFe

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Spanish Post

We, the members of the opposition and the people of Cuba, are celebrating the latest fiasco that the Cuban dictatorship has suffered in a very special way by one of the voices of the Castro regime, the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez, who with other artists got together to give a concert in Santiago de Cuba parallel to the one also being held in the so-called Anti-imperialist Platform in the City of Havana, to, in his own words, counteract a supposed media campaign against Cuba by the United States and the European Union.

Obviously this concert was a fiasco because, according to reports from some accredited Cuban news agencies, only about 1,000 people attended. I think this is an expression of the obvious difference between the spontaneous activities that occur in free and democratic societies, and the rigged rallies that occur under this type of dictatorship. So that when Gloria Estefan held a march in the United States, without having to pressure the workers, without having to hire cars, buses and so on, without having to monopolize the media by force, she drew 100,000 people. But Silvio Rodriguez here in Cuba, with all the means and resources at his disposal, with a constant media disinformation campaign, was only able to get some thousand people to attend this activity, and I repeat: a supposed concert for peace and against the international manipulations against Cuba.

Obviously we feel that this is an achievement of the Non-Cooperation Campaign, an achievement of the truth, that you are seeing more clearly, and really it shows the loss of credibility in the communist system and its media, which are no longer able to manipulate thousands and thousands of people who might otherwise have gone, but who did not believe in what he was saying there. This should draw the attention of Cubans wherever they are, should draw the attention of the international community, and above all should draw the attention of the Castro regime to the fact that each passing day it loses more ground, and with each passing day it loses more credibility and support of the Cuban people.

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