Armando Valladares

Cuban-American poet, diplomat and former political prisoner

Armando Valladares is a Cuban poet, author, and former prisoner of conscience. Initially a supporter of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution, Valladares worked for the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government. In 1960, he was arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison after refusing to put an “I’m with Fidel” sign on his desk. Valladares also refused to participate in the prison’s political rehabilitation program and was subjected to torture and kept in solitary confinement cells for years at a time. Amnesty International declared Valladares a prisoner of conscience. As a result of a worldwide campaign spearheaded by his wife Martha and a personal petition on his behalf to Fidel Castro by French president François Mitterrand, Valladares’ was released in 1982 after 22 years in prison, and resettled in the United States. After his release, he wrote “Against All Hope,” a memoir recounting his harrowing experiences in prison. In 1987, he was appointed to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission by President Ronald Reagan. In 2015, he won the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Canterbury Prize for his commitment to religious freedom. Valladares continues to write opinion pieces for major news publications on religious freedom and Cuban human rights abuses. He was particularly critical of the the Obama administration’s recent outreach to the Castros and the Cuban government in 2016.

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