Armando Valladares at Cuba Nostalgia 2011

Armando Valladares: Artist, writer and poet; he began to study painting at the School for Visual Arts in his hometown of Pinar del Rio, Cuba.

In 1960, while working in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government of Fidel Castro, he was arrested for openly expressing his disapproval of communism. Without any evidence or witnesses to accuse him, in less than a week he was sentenced to 30 years in prison; his only crime was having a different point of view and moral conviction. Refusing to succumb to the indoctrination of the prison’s political rehabilitation program, he was subjected to torture, kept in isolation and in solitary confinement cells for long periods of time, even years.

Written on cigarette papers, he was able to clandestinely smuggle out his collection of poems so they could be published outside of Cuba and his work be known by intellectuals worldwide. The PEN Club of France honored him with the Freedom Prize, awarded to writers in prison. In several European countries, Valladares Committees were established to work on achieving his freedom. Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. The worldwide campaign spearheaded by his wife Martha resulted in French president François Mitterrand’s personal petition to Fidel Castro, which resulted in his release after 22 years in prison on October of 1982.

After his release, he wrote the international best seller “Against All Hope”, his memoirs based on his time in prison, which has been translated into 18 languages. After reading the book, President Ronald Reagan named him U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission where he demonstrated that in Cuba, as in all dictatorships, their exists torture and human rights violations. President Reagan also honored him with the Presidential “Citizens” Medal, the second highest award given to a civilian in the U.S. He was also bestowed the Superior Award by the U.S. Department of State.

He also has been honored with the Italian Prize for International Journalism, the ISCHIA, and the Order of José Cecilio del Valle, the highest distinction granted to a foreigner by the government of Honduras.

Many of his art pieces are held in private collections in the United States, Central and South America, Spain and France. He has also participated in numerous individual and collective art exhibitions.

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