I know very well what I want to be in my life, and I don’t pretend to be a heroine, or hold myself up as anyone or anything. I settle for saying what I think, no matter whom it pleases or annoys.
But Orlando’s death gave me a new perspective, of what it is to be Cuban, and of what freedom means.
I have read hundreds of biographies of heroes in my long life as a student, but I had never met one from my own era. I have begun to understand the meaning of the word patriotism. Before, I didn’t know how to define it.
To prefer death rather than compromise your demands is worthy of admiration. I respect what Orlando Zapata Tamayo did because I would not do the same thing. My plans for fighting don’t include burning myself up, but if I ever decide to resort to that extreme of self-destruction, rest assured that I will carry it out to the end.
Those who trusted that Zapata Tamayo would give up his effort, or who dismissed as alarmist the reports about his deteriorating health due to his prolonged hunger strike, and remained indifferent, they have been marked out. For not appreciating the true magnitude of the bravery and dignity of a man. Nor that of his mother and family.
What is really behind the indolence and inaction is fear. For 51 years this terror has paralyzed an entire nation.
Beyond panic, he has become an example, a way.
Can they prevent other prisoners of conscience, unjustly detained in the hundreds of prisons scattered around the island, from resorting to the supreme recourse of death in order to reach freedom?
Traanslated by: Tomás A.