UPDATED, Dec. 30, 2010 — Egberto Escobedo was released from prison on Dec. 29, 2010.
On this weekend, on which Orlando Zapata Tamayo would have turned 43 if he hadn't been murdered by the Castro dictatorship, it seems appropriate to recognize two Cuban political prisoners who unwittingly or not, are following the example he set.
The two prisoners — Vazquez since April 5 and Escobedo since April 16 — have been on hunger strikes for varying reasons.
Vazquez wanted a transfer out of a prison in Guantanamo to one closer to his home in Cienfuegos, and according to a report last week, he got it in early May. However, it wasn't to Cienfuegos but instead to a prison hospital in Havana, as his protest has left him very sick.
Initially, his associates did not know where he had been transferred, but last week a guard was telling people that Vazquez had been moved to the capital, according to independent journalist Ana Margarita Perdigón Brito.
Escobedo's demands are more global — and for the regime much more dangerous. You could sum them up in three words: Freedom for Cuba.
That, of course, is unacceptable for the dictatorship, so it has resorted to throwing Escobedo into a punishment cell at the Cerámica Roja prison in Camagüey.
Hunger strikes by a Cuban political prisoners are dangerous because those they are suppose influence — the Castros and their agents — do not care whether they die, as long as it does not embarrass the regime.
One way to force that embarrassment, and to force the Castro regime to address the protesters' demands, is for the world to notice. And for the world to let the prisoners — and their captors — know that they are not forgotten.
The world took notice too late to save Orlando Zapata Tamayo's life.
And still there are other political prisoners — like Egberto Escobedo and Nelson Vazquez — willing to follow his example.
That should be enough for the world to step up on their behalf.