Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a case of political manipulation

CUBAN television’s March 1 national nightly news report on February 1 featured the statements of doctors who treated Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and of his mother, Reina Tamayo, who acknowledged the attention provided to her son by the health center Here, Granma International provides below a transcript of that report by journalist Gladys Rubio

Journalist: “The death this past February 23rd of inmate Orlando Zapata Tamayo in Havana’s Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital, as a consequence of more than 80 days of voluntary fasting, has provoked criticism of Cuba by some of the media and certain governments, who are accusing the island’s authorities of doing nothing to save his life.

Berta Antúnez Perne, member of a counterrevolutionary group:

“They have slowly killed a man.”

Ramón Saúl Sánchez, terrorist ringleader based in the USA:

“Mistreated and he eventually died; another crime of the Cuban regime.”

Journalist: “He made and was encouraged to make a decision that would lead to his death: a hunger strike if he was not given a stove, telephone and television in his cell. Zapata Tamayo’s fast began on December 8, 2009 and he died this past February 23.

Doctor Gimel Sosa Martín, of the National Hospital for Inmates:

“The patient suffered a series of complications inherent to prolonged inanition, of being so long without ingesting any food.”

Journalist: “It is proven that a prolonged fast ties the hands of science.”

Doctor Jesús Barreto Penié, who holds a master’s degree in clinical nutrition: “In that case, one can maintain the person more or less well-nourished by implementing artificial feeding techniques, which may include parenteral techniques, but that is not sufficient to guarantee long-term survival, when the digestive tube or digestive tract is not used — essentially the small and large intestines, which have a series of vital functions that precisely guarantee contact with the food ingested. If a person does not receive that stimulus for days or weeks, the intestine begins to lose its functions, and one of the most important is the immunological one. The intestine is the most important immunological organ, and what maintains that immunocompetence is precisely contact with the foods that one receives; hence, atrophy of the intestinal mucous may occur; the intestine becomes thinner; in fact, it is described as becoming almost like transparent paper. That’s where complications come in, such as digestive hemorrhages, intestinal perforations, and what is the most dangerous and most serious — which is what ends the life of many of these patients — is when they begin to pass along the bacteria that normally coexist in the small intestine, and above all in the large one, into the blood, and multiple infections occur, which are what kills the patient.”

María Esther Hernández, head of the Department of Psychology at the Ministry of Interior in Camagüey province: “We explained to him constantly the consequences of his decision and the danger this was posing to his life; we explained other ways that he could find, other ways of dealing with his situation, looking for other channels of communication, and he always maintained the same conduct.”

Doctor Dailé  Burgos, a critical care doctor at the National Hospital for Inmates: “At this center, we continued providing the medical attention to Zapata, which he received at the Amalia Simone Hospital in Camagüey. This patient was in the open wards for some time, and later was transferred to a progressive care and intensive therapy unit, because of his state of debilitation produced by the inanition resulting from his voluntary fast, and for artificial, parenteral nutrition; that is, feeding through a vein, due to the patient’s refusal to ingest food. Here, there was very close follow-up by this hospital in Camagüey, including with support from a psychological standpoint to warn him about all the deadly consequences that this prolonged fast could bring. And I do think that he was closely followed and treated, including with cutting-edge products, with respect to alimentation and very close follow-up by the therapy units at that center.”

Doctor Mariano Izquierdo, head of DEP-CH Medical Services: “The patient did not wish to eat, by his own desire. When one decides not to eat, the body begins to self-cannibalize; in other words, this is a person who begins to consume him or herself because his or her own body is looking for a way to sustain itself in face of that insufficiency of food intake orally. That was what happened to Orlando; he began to exhaust his proteins, to exhaust his carbohydrates, to exhaust his fats, and after 47 or 48 days without ingesting food, he was a patient (for whom) it is very difficult to recover via the oral channel.”

Journalist: “In this footage one can see Reina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of Orlando Zapata, accompanied by officials during the many visits she made to her son at the National Hospital for Inmates, where he was treated with complete medical rigor. According to the specialists with the medical team and the family of Zapata Tamayo, a climate of cooperation was established.”

Doctor Gimel Sosa Martín, of the National Hospital for Inmates: “The relationship with the family since the start was the best, a completely cordial relationship, amiable; the family showed itself to be very cooperative with us, with the medical personnel, not only from the hospital, but also the doctors who collaborated on this difficult case.”

Image and voice of Reina Tamayo, mother of Orlando Zapata, facing medical personnel: “Well, thank you very much…we have full confidence…we can see your concern and that everything that is being done to save him.”

Journalist: “This is a telephone conversation between Yaniset Rivero, member of the counterrevolutionary organization Directorio Democrático Cubano, based in Miami, and the counterrevolutionary Juan Carlos González Leyva, member of a faction in Cuba. In the recording, it is evident that they are not concerned about the life of Orlando Zapata; their real interest is not in the mother accompanying her son, but in her prioritizing the campaign to discredit the Cuban government.”

— JCGL: My mom taught me that a dog has four feet and takes just one road.

— YR: Who gave you the order for that letter that I told you was for….

— JCGL: Yes, yes, but she saw it yesterday, she saw it, and she is not going to cure him…either she decides on the press conference or she decides to go see him, you understand, one of the two.

— YR: No, but for that you would have had to talk to her.

— JCGL: I’m going to go see her this afternoon and I’m going to talk to her about just that because  I am a thick-headed guy from the country: hey, either you do the conference or you go see him.

Journalist: “The organized campaign against the Cuban government is aimed at accusing the island’s authorities of not providing medical attention to Orlando Zapata. Therefore, the counterrevolution is determined to manipulate and hide all evidence to the contrary. Thus, the words of Orlando Zapata’s mother regarding the painstaking attention her son was receiving were never released. That truth was not convenient for the slander campaign against Cuba.”

Voice of Reina Luisa Tamayo: “They came to get us late to take us to the meeting with the masters (master’s degree holders) who came to analyze Zapata’s health, and they explained to us that it was very critical, critical; that they were doing everything possible to save Zapata, but every day, something else in his body became worse; that they even had a kidney ready in case his failed, that they were going to fight to the end, but the situation is critical, critical.”

Journalist: “And now, further evidence that Orlando Zapata received medical attention.”

Voice of Reina Luisa Tamayo: “I was able to see the doctors who were there before I went in, and there were doctors from CIMEQ (Center for Medical Surgical Research), the best doctors, trying to save his life…”

Journalist: “Except for his relatives and the doctors, none of his cohorts in political activities against the Cuban government went to the hospitals to ask Zapata Tamayo to abandon his strike; nobody told him to desist because his life was in danger. Those images don’t exist.

“In the sea of the Antilles, one island appears strong and beautiful, with a history of respect for human beings, those of their own country and those of the world. It does not accept coercion or lies. Always with love, but always with a fist ready to defend the truth and life.”

(Video available on www.granma.cu and www.Cubadebate.cu )

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