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-infested cell where guards often threw buckets of human waste on him.
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.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post