Week 13-Extension Activity

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Armando Valladares is a Cuban poet, artist, and career writer. He did not support the Communist agenda, mainly because Communism opposed religion. Here is his story:

After you watch that video I would ask you to read this article below, then tell me what you think in the comment section:

Lifetime achievement: Armando Valladares

I used to conclude each journalism history course at the University of Texas by reading a speech Armando Valladares gave in 1988 when he was Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Valladares spoke of Fernando López Toro, a Cuban political prisoner who killed himself because “total ignorance and indifference from the rest of the world” made him think “our sacrifice was useless.” My point to students: Fidel Castro put López Toro in prison, but American journalists who defended or at least ignored Castro’s evil kept him there.

Valladares, now 78, knew that evil firsthand. From 1960 to 1982 Valladares suffered through—as he later said in speeches and in his memoir, Against All Hope—“eight thousand days of hunger, of systematic beatings, of hard labor, of solitary confinement, of cells with steel-planked windows and doors, of solitude. Eight thousand days of struggling to prove that I was a human being. … Eight thousand days of testing my religious convictions, my faith, of fighting the hate my atheist jailers were trying to instill in me with each bayonet thrust.”

Those jailers were killers. Night after night during the 1960s, Valladares in prison heard the last words of those whom Che Guevara ordered to Execution Wall: “Viva Christo Rey,” Long live King Jesus, they shouted, before bullets silenced them. The jailers were also brutal toward the living. After Valladares had three broken bones, guards beat him with thick twisted electric cables, which felt “as if they were branding me with a red-hot branding iron, but then I experienced the most intense, unbearable, and brutal pain of my life. One of the guards had jumped with all his weight on my broken, throbbing leg.”

When I interviewed Valladares in Miami on Nov. 6—see “Armando Valladares: Mind games”—he said, “I never asked God to take me out of jail. I asked him for the strength to be able to go through this. I never asked God to take me out because I knew there was a purpose for it. I started seeking God more and each time came out stronger than ever. I never remember being in solitary confinement alone: I always felt God’s presence.” Valladares is also grateful to his wife Marta, who led what became an international campaign for his release.

Each year for the past 18 we’ve awarded our Daniel of the Year award to a person (or several) who glorified God by sacrificing fame, fortune, and sometimes life itself. But Hollywood hands out both annual Oscars and Lifetime Achievement Awards, and this year so does WORLD. We honor Valladares for standing up for Christ and also giving us words of warning: “America is founded on the principle that rights come from God. They precede the state and they cannot be usurped. If America begins to cede that principle, it will be signing its own death certificate.”

Valladares ended Against All Hope by quoting Fidel Castro’s claim in 1983 that Cuba has “no human rights problem … no tortures here. … In 25 years of revolution … a crime has never been committed.” Leading U.S. journalists generally accepted this, and at one party those who never would have worn a swastika took turns joyfully putting on a Cuban army cap. Some later excused their behavior by saying Castro had overturned a previous dictatorship, that of Fulgencio Batista, but Valladares exposes that equation: “In the history of the world there has never been a more horrific dictatorship than the dictatorship of communism. Think of two bank robbers: One has robbed five banks, and the other 40 banks.”

Recognizing Valladares seems particularly appropriate in a year when, to use Valladares’ words, “Pope Francis received tyrant Raúl Castro in an ambience of mutual smiles and cordiality, shaking his bloodstained hands and asking the communist chieftain for prayers. This is a chilling and appalling scene before God and history, and one that will indelibly mark the current pontificate.” Valladares also criticized President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for offering the Castro brothers hugs rather than treating them as thugs.

Listen to Jamie Dean discuss this year’s Daniels of the Year on The World and Everything in It.

Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the political beat and other topics as national editor for WORLD Magazine. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

My friend who shared this on his Facebook is also a Cuban American, who is a vocal Christian against communism and the Castro agenda. Unfortunately, he says that since the death of Fidel Castro, thousands of Cuban people of faith are again being detained and arrested in record numbers by Cuban secret police. This is happening again, right now! We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in chains. ❤

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10 thoughts on “Week 13-Extension Activity

  1. What I think about that Valladares is a brave and courageous man because after being beaten, whipped, and locked up for many years. He could of avoided by signing a contract but when he decided not to sign it took a lot of faith, for he was loyal to God and would never go against him.

  2. Valladares story broke my heart! Hearing what he had to go through made me want to thank God for giving me the life that I have now. Seeing that he continued to put faith in God after so many years in prison, makes me want to have the same amount of faith in God as he did.

  3. Honestly I have no words, what Valladares did for Christ is absolutely amazing. He stood up for Him when he could have signed a contract and be physically free but he didn’t. And I love the fact that while Valladares was locked up and confined, Jesus was still working on the outside through the works of Valladares.
    I am reminded of what Jesus had to endure for us on the cross and how much He truly loves us. ❤

  4. I’m honestly speechless. So many people are complaining about how Christians in America are being violated by not being able to say ‘Merry Christmas’, taking God out of school, and basically out of everything public. But compared to Cuba, WE HAVE IT SO EASY! I am so sad to see and read this and it shatters my heart.
    Armando Valladares was truly courageous. If I could think of a stronger word to define brave I would use that.

  5. All I can really say is that, in all my trials that I will face in the future, I want to have to same mindset that Armando had. He knew that God put him there for a reason, so instead of asking for God to stop the pain, and take him away, he asked for strength to overcome every thing. That takes etreme faith in God, and I hope to be just as strong as Armondo was, and is.

  6. I think it’s really amazing that Armando Valladares still kept his faith for God, even through the hardships. Even when he was bribed freedom if he disowned Christ, he denied the bribery and kept his faith in God.

  7. I could never imagine being confined in the conditions that he suffered in for 22 years! Even as he was tortured and starving, he could find his hope and strength to continue in Jesus. Armando Valladares could have easily killed himself or signed the papers for his release, but he knew God had bigger plans for his life. We can see that even today God is using him. It is incredible how much faith Armando Valladares has and how this faith can inspire other people who are in the same situation to go to God for the strength that they need.

  8. I think that Armando Valladares is a great example of what everyone should strive to be, because throughout his imprisonment, he retained his faith in God and refused to give into the communist’s demands.

  9. Valladares’ story is very amazing, for someone to have such loyalty, bravery and strength to his faith. He was unmoveable in it, and the fact that he had gone to art, poetry, for comfort, and to get his word out, is beautiful.

  10. I am in absolute awe of this mans courage and streagth in The Lord. He is what all of us should strive to be. He had the opportunity to just well basicly deny everything he believes in and sign a piece of paper and be set free but he stayed diligent and didn’t sign it. Now this part really gets me he said that when he prayed to God he asked for Streanth of course but, he didn’t ask God for deliverance from the evil he knew that God had a plan for him and their was a reason that he was there. Now I would like to believe that I could also be that strong in The Lord but only as the saying goes “when push comes to shove that’s when we show our true colors”

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