Orlando Zapata Tamayo's fight for liberty is not over, as reports this evening are that other Cuban freedom fighters are taking his place on the front lines of the struggle.
Three Cuban dissidents — the prisoners of conscience Eduardo Díaz Fleitas and Diosdado González Marrero, and independent journalist Guillermo "Coco" Fariñas — have started hunger strike protests against the Castro dictatorship and to demand freedom for Cuban political prisoners, according to the Twitter feed for the independent Cuban magazine Convivencia. (For more on these brave men, click on their names.)
González, who reportedly is being held in isolation in a punishment cell, and Díaz have been imprisoned since the "black spring" of 2003. They were sentenced to 20 and 21 years in prison, respectively, during the crackdown because of their opposition to the murderous Castro regime.
Fariñas, a former political prisoner and survivor of some 20 hunger strikes, is a long-time opponent of the regime. A psychologist by training and a veteran of the Angola war, Fariñas went on a lengthy hunger strike in 2006 to demand that the Castro dicatorship allow him and other Cubans unfettered access to the Internet.
According to the Twitter feed, Fariñas has vowed to continue us protest until the prisoners arrested during the "black spring" are released or until he is dead.
Like Zapata, these men presumably understand the risks they are taking. Thy know that like Zapata, their protests may end with their deaths.
I understand their desperation; they have no other weapons with which to fight back against their oppressors, but Cuba needs them to live.
But if they die, do not be mistaken about who would be responsible.
The guilty would be, as with the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Fidel and Raúl Castro and the other murderers in the dictatorship doing their bidding.
UPDATED, 9:45 p.m. EST — Martha Beatriz Roque, via Radio Martí, reports that three other "black spring" prisoners of conscience — Pedro Argüelles Morán, Antonio Díaz Sánchez and Adolfo Fernández Sainz — have started "fasts" to show their solidarity with Zapata. Human rights leader Elizardo Sánchez said theirs is a "temporary fast."
UPDATED, 10 p.m. EST — Fariñas says he hopes he dies quickly. "The government has to pay a high political price for this cruelty. It is time that the Castro know that there is a civil society prepared to respond to the coup, but peacefully," he said.