Letter to the New York Times

Dear Editor:

A month and a half after the death by hunger strike of Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, you have covered its aftermath in “Castro: Cuba Will Resist Hunger Strike ‘Blackmail’, 4/4/2010.” This sad event has elicited ample attention by mainstream media worldwide and is now emblematic of the plight of political prisoners in Cuba.

In the article it was reported that Zapata Tamayo is the “first opposition figure to die after a hunger strike in nearly forty years.” In fact, during the regime led by the Castro brothers at least 12 Cuban political prisoners are documented to have died by hunger strike demanding humane treatment, and 7 of them died in the last 40 years. (See www.CubaArchive.org.)

The article noted that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the European Parliament have condemned Zapata’s death. But President Obama himself had also added his support to “a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people.”

The campaign for the release of all Cuban political prisoners mentioned in the article is “OZT: I accuse the Cuban government.” Rather than “criticize” the Cuban government, as was reported, it accuses it. Readers who wish to sign the petition for the release of all Cuban political prisoners may find it at http://firmasjamaylibertad.com/ozt/.

Missing from the piece was Raúl Castro’s most troubling statement: that his country “would rather disappear, as we proved in 1962” [in reference to the Missile Crisis] than meet the growing demands from the international community for his regime to uphold universally recognized human rights.


Alexis Romay
OZT: I Accuse the Cuban Government

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