Orlando Zapata Tamayo: The martyred Cuban human rights champion who refused to bow to the Castro dictatorship

Thirteen years ago today, on February 23rd, 2010, Orlando Zapata Tamayo took his last breath. For weeks before that, his body had already absorbed countless blows from the constant beatings he suffered at the hands of Cuban State Security thugs. Orlando held on for as long as his body would allow it, which was surely longer than his assailants expected.

Although they may have broken his body, his mind remained clear and strong even as his tormentors taunted him, calling him a “worthless n.….” Orlando Zapata Tamayo not only refused to surrender his own dignity, but neither the dignity of his country. He stood strong against the tyranny, the oppression, and the racism of a communist regime, never wavering, which only further infuriated his tormentors.

On that fateful day 13 years ago, Orlando Zapata Tamayo showed the Castro dictatorship that they can take away a man’s rights, his freedom, and destroy his body, but they can never take away his dignity.

Today we honor the life of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, not just his death. A life of dignity and without compromise. A life that any man who values liberty and abhors the horrors of communism would be proud of.

Rest in peace, Orlando. Your sacrifice, your courage, and your dignity will never be forgotten.

You can read more about the legacy of Orlando Zapata Tamayo at Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.