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Orlando Zapata Tamayo

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share my deep sadness over the loss of a human prisoner of conscience, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, held by the Cuban regime.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was first arrested in March of 2003 for participating in a hunger strike to demand the release of Dr. Oscar Biscet and other prisoners of conscience. Since his initial arrest and unwarranted imprisonment, the regime consistently increased Zapata's prison term to 47 years.

While in prison, Zapata endured frequent beatings and unimaginable living conditions. On December 3, Mr. Zapata began a hunger strike to protest the human rights violations and the repeated beatings by the Cuban authorities. After an 83-day hunger strike, Orlando Zapata Tamayo passed away on Thursday, February 23, 2010, with his mother at his side.

In mourning the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, I urge my colleagues to listen to his message of freedom and respect for human life. As the atrocities he fought against remain the reality of Cuba today, we must continue to fight for human rights and the release of all political prisoners.

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