Photo: Orlando Tamayo-Cuban Political Prisoner
Today marks one year since the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban political prisoner who died following an eleven-week hunger strike calling for the release of his fellow political prisoners in Cuba.
He was a relatively unknown political prisoner but when he died many young Cubans saw him as the symbol of Fidel Castros failed regime. Tamayo was a 35 year old laborer who was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 3 years in prison for “defiance”.
His death also opened the door for more hunger striking amongst political prisoners calling attention to their plight.
Today on the island, the Cuban government is ready to disband any protests that may start and are guarding Tamayo’s mothers house and his relatives to make sure they don’t start an uprising. The family is also not allowed to visit his gravesite today.
The U.S. has issued visas to his family so that they may travel to U.S. as political refugees.
The U.S. government issued a statement on the matter, in which they noted:
“We also deplore the continued intimidation and harassment by the Cuban government of activists and their family members, including Zapata’s mother Reina Luisa Tamayo, who are working to promote human rights on the island.”
“We join with both the international and Cuban community in urging the Cuban government to immediately and unconditionally release all remaining political prisoners.”