On Feb 23rd, black human rights activist Orlando Zapata-Tamayo died after an 83-day hunger strike and a series of savage beatings by his Castroite jailer/torturers.
Some background: Shortly after Jimmy Carter (famous for his “Human Rights”-flavored foreign policy as president) visited Castro in 2002, played baseball with him and returned home proclaiming Castro, “a committed egalitarian who despises any system in which one class or group of people lives much better than another,” Zapata-Tamayo was beaten and arrested by Castro’s police for the crime of “disobedience.”
Castro’s KGB/STASI -trained secret police had a point. Tamayo, a humble rural plumber and bricklayer, had studied the (smuggled) works of Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi and had attempted some “civil disobedience” to protest the Stalinism imposed on Cuba by the Castro brothers, Che Guevara and their Soviet puppeteers.
“This nigra’s sure getting uppity!” decided Cuba’s lily white Stalinist rulers--and they pounced. Samizdats smuggled out of Cuba by eye-witnesses’ report that while gleefully kicking and bludgeoning Tamayo, his Communist jailers yelled: “Worthless Ni**er!--Worthless Peasant”
Tamayo’s “disobedience” (against a regime hailed by “free spirits” from Johnny Depp to Bonnie Raitt) continued in proportion to his beatings and tortures. Tamayo remained –literally– “bloodied but unbowed.” Even Amnesty International recognized his plight and designated him an official “Prisoner of Conscience. His exasperating defiance simply prompted the regime hailed by Jesse Jackson, Charles Rangel and Danny Glover to more merciless beatings and to bump-up his sentence to 36 years in Castro’s dungeons.
A little perspective: After conviction for planting bombs in public places (by a judiciary process declared scrupulously fair by the attending international press and human rights organizations) Nelson Mandela got a lighter sentence than did Tamayo for a peaceful protest. Needless to add, the regime that jailed Mandela was universally embargoed and condemned-- and with particular virulence by the precise parties who hail Castro (who forbids any and all international human rights groups/observers/etc. from so much as setting foot in his fiefdom).
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.