Orlando Zapata Tamayo dies in Cuba and BBC shames us

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was arrested in Cuba in 2003.  His crime?  He dissented from the party line of Cuba’s political elite, led by Fidel and Raul Castro, and was imprisoned after being found guilty of disrespecting authority.  He was sentenced to three years in prison.  However, because Tamayo continued in his attempts at political activism, his sentence was increased to 25 years (some reports say 36 years).  He suffered appalling conditions and repeated beatings which led him to begin a hunger strike lasting 85 days and ending with his death.

Not only does Cuba reject democracy, it denies people such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo the basic human right of freedom of speech.  Political opponents and trade unionists who dare to oppose the proscribed communist dictatorship have their liberty taken from them and while in prison they are subjected to torture and inhumane treatment by the authorities.  The Cuban Human Rights Commission says there are about 200 political prisoners in Cuba, people who just want to be able to have a say in who governs them and how.

Despite these facts there are some people who lionise Cuba’s dynastic leadership because it thumbs its nose at the United States.  They see Cuba as a plucky underdog fighting against the Americans, who maintain a trade embargo against the island nation because of the nature of the dictatorship.  They push from their minds the human rights abuses that prevail in Cuba in order to statisfy their anti Americanism.  It is easy to point to individuals like Ken Livingstone and deride them for their myopic stance.

But when the taxpayer funded state broadcaster, the BBC, engages in this kind of behaviour it is an altogether more serious matter.  It is not just bad taste to witness the BBC to use the death of a political dissident such as Tamayo as an opportunity to air a video report by Matt Frei, one that displays barely hidden admiration for Cuba masqerading as wonderment at the ‘initiative’ shown by Cubans affected by the US trade embargo.  It is stomach churning listening to Frei, in the final seconds of the clip, when he talks about a 1950’s Buick car that continues to run only because it now contains parts gathered from around the world, opine:

‘Call it the triumph of persistence over adversity. A bit like Cuba itself, some might say.’

What kind of warped editorial meeting determined this clip, with that line, should be linked to the news of Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death?  Matt Frei’s comment offers encouragement and succour to a regime that allows and facilitates the brutalisation of people who just want freedom, yet the BBC choose to equate those sentiments with today’s news.  Sadly such a mindset is all too common at the BBC and it represents the triumph of moral relativism over what is decent and just.  For me such a crass display of naked BBC politicking shames this country.

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3 Responses to “Orlando Zapata Tamayo dies in Cuba and BBC shames us”


  1. 2 ERM 25/02/2010 at 11:53 am

    Cuba today, Britain tomorrow unless we all do something about it. No surprise there about the BBC response. They need to be decimated after the Election.

  2. 3 JohnRS 25/02/2010 at 11:56 am

    No surprises then. After all this is the BBC we’re talking about, a group of Grauniad gutter scrapings who should be in jail for sedition not continuing to broadcast more lies and bias.


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