Declaration from the Bishops of Cuba: Orlando Zapata Tamayo

NOTE FROM THE STANDING COMMITTEE

Through the international media we have learned that the prisoner, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, 42 years of age and neighbor of the Banes municipality, brick-layer who accumulated a 36-year sentence in prison, died in Havana after 83 days of hunger strike.  He was considered a prisoner of conscience and the strike that cost his life was directed to asking his jailers to respond to his demands with regards to the prison regimen.

Death in these conditions is a tragedy for everybody because it has to do with the life of one person who was concerned with protecting and conserving a better life for everyone.

The Catholic Church, in response to such a case, usually tries to dissuade people from utilizing such methods of protest that would put one’s own life in danger, a form of violence carried out upon oneself.

The Church asked, on various occasions, to visit Mr. Zapata, which did not take place.  In the same way, it has asked and petitioned the authorities who, in their hands, hold the lives and health of the prisoners, to take appropriate measures so that such a case is not repeated, and, at the same time, to create conditions for dialogue and understanding to avoid coming to such painful situations that benefit nobody and that make many suffer.

We extend our condolences to the mother of Mr. Zapata, to his family, and to all his loved ones, and also offer the security of our prayers.

We ask God that we all understand how to listen to the call of Jesus Christ to work for the common good as if it were our own good.

May the Virgin of Charity, with her beneficent presence, allow all Cubans to feel like and become brothers.

Standing Committee.

Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba.

Translated by Raul G.

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