No one wants Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, on hunger strike in defense of his human rights since Dec. 3, to die.
And that includes his captors, who must be afraid of what might happen if Zapata succumbs to the effects of his protest.
Already, Cubans in disparate opposition groups have rallied around Zapata, holding prayer fasts and other events to show their support for Zapata. Web sites like Miscelaneas de Cuba, Payo Libre and journalist Ainí Martín Valero's blog are filled with such accounts. Cubans in exile are having similar success in spreading the word about Zapata's possible fate.
And already, the dictatorship has responded with force, which is only a sign of its fear.
Protest by suicide is not acceptable, even if a hunger strike is the only weapon Zapata had in his disposal to strike back against his torturers. His family, and the cause of Cuban liberty, need him to live.
But if he is martyred, his death will not be in vain. It will expose — again — the cruelty of the Castro dictatorship, and provide a further rallying cry for those fighting to depose it.