Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in a Cuban prison after a hunger strike he refused to cease in spite of requests to do so by Cuban authorities. Counterrevolutionaries, both inside and outside Cuba, portrayed him as a prisoner of conscience and claimed he was being held unjustly. But Zapata was no prisoner of conscience — he had a rap sheet and even committed crimes while in prison. The European Parliament has passed a resolution condeming Cuba over the man’s death.
Directly below is the excerpt of the European Parliament’s resolution that pertains to Zapata. Following that is the declaration from Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power rejecting the criticism and pointing out the hypocrisy of the allegations.
RESOLUTION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (excerpt), March 10, 2010
1. Strongly condemns the avoidable and cruel death of the dissident political prisoner Orlando
Zapata Tamayo after a hunger strike of 85 days, and expresses its solidarity and sympathy
with his family;
2. Condemns the pre-emptive detention of activists and the government’s attempt to prevent the
family of Orlando Zapata Tamayo from holding his funeral and paying their last respects;
3. Deplores the absence of any significant signs of response by the Cuban authorities to the
calls by the EU and the international community for all political prisoners to be released and
for fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of expression and political association, to be
4. Calls on the Cuban Government for the immediate and unconditional release of all political
prisoners and prisoners of conscience;
5. Voices its concern at the situation of the political prisoners and dissidents who went on
hunger strike following Zapata’s death; welcomes the fact that most of them are now taking
food again, but draws attention to the alarming state of the journalist and psychologist
Guillermo Fariñas, whose continuation of the hunger strike could have fatal consequences;
6. Deplores the failure to respond to the repeated calls by the Council and Parliament for the
immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and stresses that
imprisoning Cuban dissidents for their ideals and their peaceful political activity is contrary
to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
7. Urges the Council and Commission to step up action to demand the release of political
prisoners and promote and provide guarantees for the work of human rights defenders, along
the lines agreed by the Foreign Affairs Council in its conclusions of 8 December 2009;
8. Urges the EU institutions to give their unconditional support and full encouragement to the
launching of a peaceful process of political transition to multi-party democracy in Cuba;
9. Voices its profound solidarity with the entire Cuban people and its support for them in their
progress towards democracy and respect and promotion of fundamental freedoms
10. Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and
the Commissioner responsible for cooperation immediately to begin a structured dialogue
rotating Presidency, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union
for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly
and the Cuban Government and National Assembly of People’s Power.
March 10, 2010
In the aftermath of a campaign orchestrated essentially by powerful European media companies, which have viciously attacked Cuba, and following a sullied debate, the European Parliament has just passed a condemnation resolution against our country manipulating sentiments, distorting facts, deceiving people and obscuring reality.
The pretext has been the death of an inmate first punished for common crimes and then manipulated by US interests and the mercenaries at its service. This man refused to eat despite all warnings and the intervention of Cuban medical specialists.
This unfortunate event cannot be used to condemn Cuba under the allegation that his death could have prevented. If there is an area in which our country does not need to defend itself with words, because reality is undisputable, that is in its struggle for human life and not only for those born in Cuba but elsewhere, too. The presence of Cuban doctors in Haiti for eleven years prior to the earthquake of last January, practically ignored by the mainstream press, is but an example of this.
A great cynicism stands behind that condemnation, for countless lives, especially of children, have been lost in the poor nations due to the decision of the rich countries represented at the European Parliament to avoid honoring their commitments to development aid. Everyone knew that such a decision was a massive death sentence, yet they chose to preserve the level of wastage and ostentation of an eventually suicidal consumerism.
Cubans find it offensive this attempt at teaching us lessons as in Europe immigrants and the unemployed are the victims of repression while here, in neighbors’ meetings –freely and without intermediaries– our people put up their candidates to the municipal elections.
Those who were involved in and/or allowed the air smuggling of detainees, the establishment of illegal prisons and the tortures lack the morality to pass judgment on a brutally blockaded and harassed people.
Such a discriminatory and selective condemnation can only result from the failure of a policy that has unsuccessfully tried to submit a heroic people. Neither the Helms-Burton Act nor the European Common Position, –both approved the same year, under similar circumstances and with equal purpose, and both harmful to our sovereignty and national dignity—have any future, since the Cubans reject impositions, intolerance and pressure in the development of international relations.
National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba
March 11, 2010