febrero 18, 2010
Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ross Lehtinen sends letter to the Vatican on the Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo in mortal danger as a result of the prolonged hunger strike.
His Eminence Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State for His Holiness the Pope
I am writing to request your immediate assistance and intervention of the Holy See on behalf of Cuban prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo who is in critical condition. Mr. Tamayo was sentenced in a sham trial to 56 years and 6 months of prison for his peaceful efforts in defense of human rights and in shining a spotlight on the Cuban regime’s gross violations of the universal freedoms of the Cuban people. He has been transferred from heinous prison to heinous prison and has suffered multiple beatings and torture resulting in serious injuries. On March 23, 2009, Orlando underwent emergency surgery to address a blood clot in his brain—the result of a fierce beating he endured a year prior. In seven years, the darkness he experiences in his squalid jail cell has been interrupted by just 506 hours he has been allowed in the sun.
Orlando Zapata Tamayo has sought justice, not for himself, but for his fellow countrymen. He has undertaken multiple hunger strikes to protest the dictatorship’s repression inside and outside the prison walls. Two days ago, after 76 days on a hunger strike, Orlando began throwing up and lost consciousness. He was taken under heavy security to a medical facility. His condition is described as critical.
Your Eminence, the Holy See is uniquely positioned to positively influence the Cuban regime’s actions with respect to Orlando’s welfare. Your intervention could be the difference between life and death.
I respectfully request that you help ensure Orlando is provided with all necessary medical attention and be granted his freedom upon his recovery. I further ask that the Holy See make Orlando’s plight and that of hundreds of Cuban prisoners of conscience a priority. These peaceful human rights defenders have acted on the call: “Be not afraid”, reiterated by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Cuba in 1998. Help them free themselves from the bondage of Cuba’s communist regime.