unjustly imprisoned her son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience. They beat him and tortured him to such an extreme that his only defense was the hunger strike. While on a water only hunger strike prison officials cut off his water for 18 days contributing to his death. As she tried to save her son’s life they secretly videotaped her and recorded her telephone conversations which they heavily edited in a pathetic attempt to white wash the Cuban dictatorship’s role in this atrocity.
Now the regime slanders, intimidates, beats and detains the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo as she attempts to attend mass and visit her son’s grave while trying to again white wash their image by inviting her to go into exile. In early November the Miami Herald reported that Reina Luisa Tamayo "was repeatedly hit on the head, thrown to the ground and gagged with a smelly rag that left her breathless," by Cuban state security agents, one of which told her to "Shut up, you lousy black."
Nine months after the untimely death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo followed by the brutal beatings of the Ladies in White the regime has used the forced exile of dozens of unjustly imprisoned prisoners of conscience to clean up its international image and distract press attention.
Nevertheless there remained 12 Cuban prisoners of conscience imprisoned from the March 2003 crackdown that wanted to stay in Cuba as of November 7, 2010. Under threats of an intensification of demonstrations and new hunger strikes agents of the regime bought some time stating that within 15 days to a month of the November 7th deadline these prisoners would be released. One of these 12 has been released and returned home since then: 68 year old Arnaldo Ramos Lauzerique.
At the same time other activists are beaten and detained as repression increases around the island but the international community remains focused on prisoner "releases" into forced exile.
It is an effective strategy that needs to be challenged for the sake of Cuban civil society, the remaining prisoners of conscience and the nonviolent opposition. Now is the time for all persons of good will to spread the word on what is happening in Cuba and not allow themselves to be distracted. The dictatorship in Cuba for over half a century have been masters at the art of distraction. It is time for Cuban democrats and those in solidarity with them to look beyond the distractions and remain focused on the human rights situation on the island.
Remember the 11 prisoners of conscience from the Cuban Black Spring still imprisoned that were supposed to be released on November 7, 2010 according to agreement reached between the Catholic Church, the Spanish government and the Cuban regime:
However at the same time that the campaign for their release and that of the other political prisoners that remain incarcerated continues there remains the fact that as long as the laws are not changed or revoked that these freed prisoners will only make room for a new crop of prisoners of conscience.
Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina of the Eastern Democratic Alliance, a grouping of Cuban human rights and pro-democracy groups in the East of the island, reports that Raudel Avila Lozada,Yoandri Montoya Aviles, Lester Mora Carbonell in Santiago de Cuba, Jorge Corrales, Rogelio Tavìo Jr., Gerardo Rodriguez, Yoandri Beltràn, Isael Poveda, Francisco Manzanet and Roberto Gonzales have all been detained by Cuban state security and were in custody as of November 20, 2010.
Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, the latest Cuban prisoner of conscience to arrive in exile in Spain, sick and physically run down expressed his sadness that there was no real political opening in Cuba but a "political white wash operation." The first winner of the Sakharov Prize, Anatoli Marchenko offered great wisdom when he observed: "I am convinced that publicity is the sole effective means of combating the evil and lawlessness which is rampant in my country today."
Today it is up to you to assist Cuba's Marchenko's in bringing attention to the systematic violation of human rights in the island. Two things that you can do immediately that will only take a moment is to sign petitions for the freedom of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia.