Joaquin F. Otero

( August 17, 2010

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to request your personal attention and assistance, and that of the U.S. Government, on behalf of a mother in Cuba who has been suffering and continues to suffer the abuse, harassment and repression of the Cuban government in spite of the death of her son. Her name is Reina Luisa Tamayo, and she lives in Banes, Oriente in eastern Cuba.

Her son, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, one of Cuba’s political prisoners arrested in 2003 with 75 other critics of the Cuban government, died in February after a hunger strike waged in demand of better prison conditions and proper medical attention for seriously ill inmates. During his last days, Cuban authorities denied him any water or proper medical care.

It is because of Orlando’s courage and devotion to the cause of freedom, the international community rallied to his cause and that of other political prisoners, pleading for their release. His tragic death, the hunger strike of another political prisoner, Guillermo Fariñas, and the widely distributed film of attacks on the Ladies in White who walk through Havana’s public plazas on Sundays to call attention to the plight of political prisoners, Cuba’s government has begun the release of some prisoners.

Those releases are conditioned upon immediate exile to Spain. Their passports and those of relatives, who accompany them, including young children, are being stamped: “indefinite exit” – meaning they will not be allowed to return to Cuba. They are not being exiled, they are being deported!

Reina Luisa Tamayo, however, has become a “special case.” Because she has publicly blamed Cuban authorities for the death of her son and has organized Sunday memorial marches from the Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Church en Banes, to the cemetery where her son is buried, she became a target of threatening government-organized mobs that surround her home.

Police have watched but provided no protection to her or her family and friends. Check points have been set up along routes to her home to turn away visitors. Racism may well be a factor. Amnesty International recently issued an alert on her case.

It is my considered opinion that America being a beacon of freedom and democracy cannot stand idly on the sidelines while the Castro dictatorship continues to brutally repress any public expression of democratic disagreement.

A public statement from the government of the United States of America would encourage other democracies around the world to join our country in the quest for bringing a halt to the mistreatment of this humble, black woman. Your favorable consideration to this request would be appreciated by all who hunger for freedom and democracy in Cuba. Thank you, Mr. President.

Sincerely yours,

Joaquin F. Otero

Joaquin and Carin Otero
1276 North Wayne Street, # 922
Arlington, VA 22201

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