I got used to freedom well. I really had no problems with that. I felt, of course, much better because I missed one thing in prison, and many people ask me: What did you feel when you regained your freedom? And my answer is: "I've never lost my freedom." I lost things like sitting at a table, eating with a fork, but I never lost my freedom. "I've always been a free man, always, always, always. I never felt like a slave. The only thing I lost was the simpler things that I logically regained when I got back to living freely.
My first hunger strike - after two days I thought I'd die. After three days, I was sure I couldn't handle it anymore. If only I knew what it would be like after ten more hunger strikes. During one of them we voluntarily protested against human rights violations in prisons, which lasted 36 days. And another rejection of food, which lasted 46 days because the Communists wanted us to adopt a political rehabilitation plan. The Communists tried a number of methods that forced us to give up. What does political rehabilitation mean? Political rehabilitation meant I had to sign the document. In that document it was said that all my past life was a mistake, that the values I desired were false values and something incredibly unacceptable to me - that I did not exist and that I regret my previous life and my previous beliefs and I wish so that the revolution would give me the opportunity to enter a new socialist society to become a new person. All the violence I have in my memories against all hopes, all the horrors in prison - beatings, wounds, forced labor, food distribution, all aimed to break the prisoner's resistance. The whole goal of all this was simply to accept this document and all ill-treatment was immediately terminated, I could even go home for a week, and then I was taken to one of the farms, an outdoor farm because they knew they had broken us inside. The Communists knew exactly the way we thought, knew what our ideas were, our beliefs, and knew that when they broke us we were already destroyed within.
On December 28, 1960, the state police invaded my house, searched everything, couldn't find weapons, explosives or propaganda materials, in short, anything to convict me as a conspirator. But the police investigator told me, "Look, we have no evidence against you, no one is blaming you, we have not found anything that could compromise you, but we believe you are a potential enemy of the revolution, so we will have to lock you up." I said if they had no proof, how would they condemn me? And they said that I was studying religion, I was studying at a Catholic school, and I replied, "But Fidel also studied in a religious school," They said, "Yes, but Fidel is a revolutionary, but you're a counter-revolutionary." The trial was over and I was taken to La Cabaña Prison The trial was a court of peasants, the peasants were part of that court. The judge was reading a comic book and I saw that when he raised his legs and crossed them on a stool, they were solemn shoes. He read comics during the trial, and when he was intrigued, he shared it with others, especially the jurors, and I was sentenced to 30 years in prison. only two types of punishment - 30 years or the death penalty.
I was lucky! I was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Another option was the death penalty.
Armando Valladares was born on 30 May 1937 in the Cuban province of Pinar del Río. Although initially believed in the Cuban Revolution, he soon realized that Fidel Castro had no good intentions. Since 1959 he was employed by the Ministry of Communication. But because he was not afraid to speak out against communism and the Cuban regime, he became a potential enemy who had to be punished. In December 1960 he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for bombing terrorist acts during the Cuban Revolution. Armando spent 22 years in prison. He became a Cuban writer, an opponent of the Cuban Revolution, a human rights activist and also an American ambassador to the UN. The Cuban regime never broke Armando, thanks to his firm will and belief that his stay in prison, from which he has many horrific memories, will end once. In prison he wrote a collection of poems, met his future wife and never surrendered. Nor has it given up the idea that Cuba will once become a free country.