Misters Raul and Fidel Castro:
This March 15, 2010 marked the 20th anniversary of my imprisonment by the dynastic government you lead. I was 25 years, five months and 15 days old on March 15, 1990 when I declared myself to be an opposition activist and demanded democratic reforms; it took another 17 years for me to be released. I will never forget how during that time the sinister units of the political police physically and mentally tortured me, and tried in vain to break my dignity in exchange for releasing me or making my prison term more comfortable.
Reflecting today, two decades after my arrest, I am more convinced that if I had to I would do the same all over again, and I only regret not having embraced earlier the just cause that I defend.
Fidel and Raul Castro: a few days ago your hands were stained with the blood of an innocent man. Once again your forces of hatred mercilessly opposed a Titan who did not bow to terror. His name: Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a 42-year old black construction worker, whose unjust imprisonment was not enough for you, but after torturing him without limit to break his resolution, you sent him to be annihilated. You began, as is the custom in your jails, to apply refined methods of torture: 18 days without water, denial of timely medical care and total nudity before the harsh winter. This was sufficient to finish him off, with premeditation. But it was not enough for you to kill him physically, without also trying to destroy him morally.
Does it not seem to you to be a cowardly position to attack by discrediting those who can not defend themselves? Would you not consider it to be unethical to manipulate the suffering and despair of a mother after killing her child? With the assassination of Orlando Zapata Tamayo this cruel government began to dig its own grave, because in addition to the bloodshed and the grieving family, you have sought the condemnation and contempt of a people that is not stupid despite being uninformed, and whose intelligence and common sense is offended, according to countless collected opinions.
The attacks on the memory of Orlando Zapata in this servile press could not deny in the least that he is one of 75 peaceful opponents that you, in your historic terror attack, arrested during that black March of 2003; that due to the guidelines given to Officers Julio César González Bombino and Filiberto Hernández Luis, he was deprived of drinking water during the first 18 days of his hunger strike, and that during last winter he had to pass the night on the bitterly cold ground without being covered, in the infamous Kilo 8 prison in Camagüey.
And I tell you this because, as they did to Zapata, these and other officers, including those in the same prison, also tortured me in the same way. It is true, and it doesn’t embarrass us to recognize that we are very moved and saddened by the death of our brother, but at the same time we are encouraged for certain reasons, as your hopes and those of the physical executors of the crime have been dashed against the strength of his mother Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, and of his brothers, who turned the funeral into a true expression of resistance. The political cost and international condemnation have been of such magnitude that it is impossible that you will ever recover.
Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s sacrifice, despite this cowardly attempt to distort his image, now rises higher than ever and will be multiplied in all those who, like him, are firm in the defense of human rights and in the peaceful and direct confrontation against tyranny.
Today, 20 years after my incarceration, allow me to draw two conclusions. First, when you assassinated Orlando Zapata, you thought that you were going to terrorize us. You were wrong. Amongst the Cuban people there are thousands of Zapatas who do not fear you. Second, 20 years ago I shouted in a public square that communism was a mistake and I advocated reforms. Today I tell you the same and more.
Fidel and Raul Castro, cruel murderers, give up your power because the people despise you.
From Placetas, from one who will neither shut up nor leave Cuba,
Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”
Former political prisoner
Translated by ricote and HEFA