Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cuban Man Says He Relied on God to Survive 22 Years of Torture in Castro's Gulag

Cuban Man Says He Relied on God to Survive 22 Years of Torture in
Castro's Gulag
November 21, 2015|11:20 am

A former Cuban prisoner of conscience who was imprisoned for opposing
the Communist regime of Fidel Castro and used his own blood to write
poetry throughout his 22-year detention will be honored as the 2016
recipient of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's highest honor.

Armando Valladares, a former Cuban government worker who was arrested in
1960 for refusing to put a sign at his desk stating "I'm with Fidel,"
kept his faith in the Lord despite suffering from years of atrocious and
torturous conditions during his detention.

Valladares, 78, who was released in 1982 thanks to the intercession of
French President Francois Mitterand, suffered from relentless beatings,
survived a number of hunger strikes that left him wheelchair-bound for
years, spent eight years naked in solitary confinement in a mosquito-

During his imprisonment, Valladares wrote letters and poetry that his
wife, Martha, smuggled out of Cuba and got published, which created an
international outcry for his release and a global awareness for the
persecution of Cuban prisoners of conscience.

Considering that he usually didn't have anything to write with or on, he
often used any little thing he could find to write his letters and
poems. Valladares often salvaged cigarette paper to write on and even
used his own blood to write with.

On Thursday, the Becket Fund announced that Valladares will be honored
next May as the recipient of the organization's Canterbury Medal, which
is given to honor the "most distinguished religious leaders and
advocates of religious liberty throughout the world."

"Valladares personifies the fight for religious liberty. During the 22
years he spent in Castro's gulags, he refused to give up his faith and
in fact, it became the very core to help him survive," Becket Fund
Executive Director Kristina Arriaga told The Christian Post in a
statement. "Since his release, he has defended countless others who have
been denied their God-given right to live according to their own beliefs."

After his release, Valladares resettled in the United States in 1986 and
has devoted his life to defending human rights. In 1987, President
Ronald Reagan appointed Valladares to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

"America, perhaps more than any other nation in the world, understands
and defends the sanctity of the human mind and the beliefs that flourish
and guide it," Valladares wrote in a September op-ed in The New York
Post. "We are still a beacon to the men and women that languish in their
jail cells for holding steadfast to their beliefs and for refusing to
violate them despite intimidation in places where tyrannical thugs or
ISIS zealots reign with terror."

Valladares served as a U.N. ambassador from 1988 until 1990. He lobbied
heavily for greater U.N. attention to placed on the human rights
violations in Cuba. Since his time in the U.N., he has continued to
speak out against government infringements on religious liberty.

In the New York Post op-ed, Valladares criticized the Obama
administration's mistreatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an
order of nuns who are in the midst of a legal battled against the
Obamacare contraception mandate.

Just as the Cuban government forced Valladares to stay in prison because
he wouldn't sign a paper supporting Castro's Revolution, the nuns are
being told by the Obama that they must sign papers to authorize their
health insurance company to provide contraception and abortion-inducing
drugs to their employees, which the nuns feel violates their religious

If the nuns, who are represented by the Becket Fund, don't abide by the
contraception mandate, they could be forced to pay millions of dollars
in fines.

Although the Little Sisters' case against the mandate suffered a setback
in federal circuit court this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court announced
earlier in November that it will hear the Little Sisters' case.

"We have chosen Armando Valladares to receive this award in May 2016,"
Arriaga wrote in an op-ed for The Hill. "After all, it is only fitting
that the same year the Supreme Court will consider whether the federal
government can force nuns to, among other things, sign away their faith,
we honor a man who refused to sign away his because he knew that letters
on a piece of paper can and do have power and meaning."

Source: Cuban Man Says He Relied on God to Survive 22 Years of Torture
in Castro's Gulag -

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