Armando Valladares

Armando Valladares spent 22 years in Cuban prisons as punishment for his Opposition to the communist government of Fidel Castro. After Castro began to impose harsh prison sentences on dissidents of his rule, Valladares was jailed in 1960 at age 23, for refusing to place a pro-communist placard on his desk at the post office. He survived inhumane living conditions, daily torture, forced labor, and solitary confinement through his inexorable perseverance and deep religious faith. An international campaign for his freedom fueled my Amnesty International's adoption of him as a prisoner of conscience and the relentless advocacy his wife Marta, culminated in his release in 1982. His memoir, Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro┬┤s Gulag, became an international bestseller. Valladares was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, where his focus on Cuba led to the exposure of Castro's horrific prison System and brought Cuba before the commission for human rights abuses. He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly and various governmental organizations in Europe and the Americas on his experiences and the state of human rights in Cuba. He co-founded Resistance International with Vladimir Bukovsky and served as president of the Valladares Project, an international non-profit organization that advocates for children's rights. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal. Valladares is the chairman of the International Council of the Human Rights Foundation.