Thursday, February 25, 2010

Of Cowards and Criminals

My friends quickly update their Facebook statuses and Tweets with a variant of: Orlando Zapata Tamayo has died. Please pray for him and his family.

‘Too little, too late’ is my initial reaction. I try to put myself in Orlando’s shoes, but that’s useless. What do I know about starving to death? Again, I close my eyes and try to conceptualize what it feels like to die the way he did. Was he in agony for 85 days? Or did his body become numb to the pain before he fell into a coma? What did Orlando feel as his body shut down and consumed itself in a desperate attempt to keep living? Since I couldn’t imagine what Orlando’s last 85 days of life were like I turned to the infinite source of knowledge my generation relies on. I Googled “starvation.”

The first few days after refusing solid foods, Orlando is in significant discomfort as a gnawing pain takes over his stomach and intestines. Already malnourished, he becomes weaker and is unable to sit or stand on his own after a couple of weeks. Chronic diarrhea likely sets in. Too weak to move, Orlando likely lies covered in his own feces for weeks, confined to the prison floor he slept on for over six years.

As his body begins to break apart muscles and organs in a frantic bid for the smallest amounts of energy, intense and sharp pains take over. Slowly dying, dehydration sets in after he is refused a single drop of water for over two weeks. Orlando’s skin then dries out and cracks open, his bare flesh exposed, flies dancing in and out of his wounds. His limbs become stiff and his body convulses like a marionette in the hands of a small child. In and out of consciousness, Orlando hallucinates and his senses are dull during his last days of life. Past the tipping point – he falls into a coma and dies

I wonder how anyone capable of feeling or understanding pain could do such a thing to fellow human being. What extraordinary cowardice must he/she possess to be part of the heinous process that killed this innocent man? At what point do you lose any sense of empathy and humanity and become so callous that watching someone starve to death is nothing more than a minor inconvenience?

What went through the mind of the prison guard who refused Orlando’s pleas for water? I can’t imagine what he told his kids when they asked him what he did at work that day.

“Mi niño, hoy papá ayudo asesinar un hombre inocente – fue una muerte muy lenta y dolorosa.”

“Pero Papi, ¿el no ere una persona como tu y yo? ¿Por que hiciste eso?”

“Mijo, es que tu papá es un cobarde y un criminal.”

No comments: