Fidel Castro’s Brutal Dictatorship: Armando Valladares & Cuban Dissidents Tortured | National Review
"Armando Valladares’s story says more about Fidel Castro than any obituary could.
It’s a part of the Fidel Castro story Michael Moore and Sean Penn won’t tell, or don’t know.
It’s a story you certainly didn’t hear from the media as they endlessly opined about Castro’s “complicated” legacy.
But it reveals so much more about the dictator than they ever could.
The year was 1959. Castro, a young revolutionary, had seized Cuba’s imagination with talk of democracy and a new vision for its people.
It didn’t take long, however, for one follower to discover Castro’s true nature, and for Castro to run up against the limits of his own earthly power.
Armando Valladares may not have been the first man to challenge the Cuban dictator, but he eventually became the best known.
By his own account, the young Valladares was an early supporter of Castro’s revolution, taking a job in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government, where he worked as a postal clerk.
But all of that changed when he was asked to put a communist slogan on his desk.
It comprised three simple words: “I’m with Fidel.”
A young artist and poet who also happened to be a Christian, Valladares understood the meaning of the request.
What he did not know, and could not know, was how far his own government would go to bend him to its will.
Soon after his refusal to comply, Valladares was arrested by political police at his parents’ home. Faced with trumped up charges of terrorism — a favorite tactic of the Castro regime for silencing dissent — he was given a 30-year sentence.
Valladares would spend time in different prison camps for the next 22 years.
The first, La Cabaña, forged some of the very worst memories.
“Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches,” he told the Becket Fund, which last year honored him with its Canterbury Prize, given annually to a person who embodies an unfailing commitment to religious freedom..."