Pacifist of the 21st Century


The peaceful Non-Violent struggle has been fostered throughout the Western hemisphere gaining in importance.  This form of demanding and calling for rights has led hundreds of Cubans, who have been dedicated to the future of the nation, to jail.  An example of this was the repressive wave known as The Black Spring of 2003.

The hunger strike has been recognized as the most complete peaceful demonstration, and defines itself as the total self-imposed abstinence from food.  This is used as a form of protest against a situation which is considered unjust; it’s an act of voluntary sacrifice of one’s life in support or honor of a cause.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a young black man, has been the most recent victim of a dictatorial Stalinist-type regime implanted in Cuba for more than half a century.  Zapata was a tireless fighter for the basic freedoms of Cubans which are violated daily.  He was detained on March 20, 2003, while fasting with other pro-democratic activists to demand the release of Cuban political prisoners.

I met this man in person and I enjoyed his friendship, he was always respectful towards all his brothers in struggle and tried to be a uniting force within the internal opposition movement, a man whom God provided with great courage and unshakable will and principles, the principles necessary to undertake a hunger strike, and that were common during his 6 years of imprisonment, always for justifiable and coherent causes.

While in prison he adopted the floor as a bed because his mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo Danger, took a mattress to him, which she purchased with her own cash, and the prison authorities did not allow such a delivery.  So, then, when it was sleeping time he sported an overcoat and a black snow hat, just like a Russian, and covered himself with any blanket he could find.  The nails on his hands and feet were infected with fungus due to the humidity of the jail cell, especially thanks to sleeping on the floor.  His prison cell, which was located in Taco-Taco, isolated from the rest of the jail, was constructed over the very center of a marsh, surrounded by swamp.  His bunk-bed was a library which showcased over 500 books and he lent many of these books to many inmates throughout the jail.  Many of those prisoners, after examining the penal code which belonged to Zapata, used every trick to get close to him to ask him to investigate the details of their crime or sentence from the point of view of justice, because he did not possess any knowledge of laws.

The lack of comprehension and the intolerance which has characterized the Castro brothers led Orlando Zapata Tamayo to start a hunger strike on December 3, 2009 which lasted over 80 days.  During this time, many demands for support were made to the international community with the intention of having them intervene for his life. Under the orders of the maximum authority of the State Security and the incompetence of the Cuban government, he died on February 23, 2010, becoming in universal history an example of pacifism in the 21st century.

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