My Homage to Zapata


They have killed him, forcing him to die.
César Vallejo

I never met Orlando Zapata Tamayo. I didn’t know of him until a week ago, when I heard of his hunger strike and his critical state of health. Through his death I learned details of his imprisonment and of the tragedy with its fatal conclusion. It’s impossible for me to conceive of his condition as a prisoner, as such a ward of the State, that he couldn’t be kept alive by intravenous means in an infirmary or hospital, even against his will; because in the first place, the prison warden is responsible for his life. But even at the end of the day it’s a death by government, because in our country everything is so controlled, nobody improvises.

Neither do I know Enrique Ubieta. All I know of him is that he’s the director of a monthly publication, and last night I saw him on a television program speaking about spaces for debate. Caught between stupor and indignation, today I read an article signed by him.

Mr. Ubeita manages — with discipline — the theme of counter-revolution. He is categorical in stating that a counter-revolution has no scruples, which amazes me because that which he calls counter-revolution is such a heterogeneous conglomeration that it ends up being difficult to make generalizations about it. I’m not sure where he gets his information, but it’s not from the man on the street.

I can’t overlook some of his statements:

“Zapata was a dispensable man for the splinter groups” … “He started his strike because he wanted a private kitchen and telephone” … “His demise is a feast”.

Although we’re talking about an opinion article — apparently — the syntax of the foolish article isn’t speculative. I believe Mr. Ubieta should try reading again the numerous bits of information he is handling. Hasn’t it occurred to him that we are facing a sad fact, that the tears are legitimate, that all these people would have preferred to celebrate Zapata Tamayo’s liberation instead of crying over his death?

I think Mr. Ubieta passed up an opportunity to shut up. He’ll stay as the head of his tabloid and probably will have received congratulations for his article, but the breadth of History has abundant examples of how fans of totalitarian governments repent and beg forgiveness. It wouldn’t be strange if Mr. Ubieta were one more of these tomorrow.

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