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Valladares, Armando (1937–)

Valladares, Armando (1937–)

Armando Valladares (b. 30 May 1937), Cuban poet and prose writer. Valladares was born in Pinar del Río Province. In 1961, while employed by the revolutionary government on the staff of the Cuban postal service, he was arrested and accused of being a counterrevolutionary. After refusing to participate in the government's "rehabilitation" program, he was subjected to severe beatings, torture, forced labor, and twenty-two years of confinement. While in prison he began to write poetry, which he smuggled out of the country in many ingenious ways. His wife, Martha, fought relentlessly to bring international attention to his case, and when his poetry gained recognition outside of Cuba, he became a symbol of the struggle against human rights abuses in that country. When at last Valladares's case was taken up by Amnesty International, which once made him its prisoner of the year, it attracted worldwide attention, dealing a severe blow to the Cuban government's image abroad.

After his release in 1982, Valladares continued to decry the abuses he saw and suffered while in prison in Cuba, and in 1985 he published a memoir of the ordeal, Contra toda esperanza (Against All Hope), his best-known work, which became a best-seller. Direct and unpretentious, his poetry is permeated by genuine anguish and the desire to end cruelty. Another work by Valladares is El corazón en que vivo (The Heart in which I Live, 1980). He served for a time as U.S. ambassador for human rights to the United Nations. After the 2001 incident involving seven-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez, Valladares updated and re-released his memoir, Against All Hope, that year in order to include a commentary on what Elian's future would be like if he were indeed repatriated to Cuba. As of 2007, he was president of the Valladares Project, an international nonprofit organization that protects the rights of children. He was also chairman of the International Council of the Human Rights Foundation, based in New York.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Britt Arenander, Fallet Valladares (1981).

Additional Bibliography

Foss, Clive. Fidel Castro. Stroud, U.K.: Sutton, 2006.

Jolis, Alan. "A Cuban Solzenitsyn Cries Out against a Tropical Gulag." Wall Street Journal, December 28, 1990.

Latell, Brian. After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

                                              Roberto Valero

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