Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag

Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's GulagI had some difficulty getting through this book, not because of bad writing the writing is excellent , but because it hits close to home The account of this man and those he knew who suffered under communism in Cuba will be like the millions of average citizens in the USA who will have to suffer since such a large part of the Murikin population has embraced the ideas of communism It s only a matter of time before some charismatic asshole takes over and starts murdering and imprisoning folks for not going along with the party line Read this book and The Black Book of Communism and The Gulag Archipelago and others like them and you will see the true face of socialism communism as it is played out in murder, theft, and injustice It is no wonder that some consider anyone who has embraced communism as no longer human and in need of extermination I don t hold this view, but I understand it I ve tried to warn anyone who would listen about the danger of trust in and worship of government, but most do not listen Socialistic communistic governments are among the worst governments to plague humanity, so testimonies like this book are necessary for anyone with even the slightest intelligence to read and think about.Be a human Don t be a lying, thieving, murderer like the revolutionary thugs involved in the take over and rule of Cuba. I was speaking to my Cuban neighbor who got out as a child in 1961 in Operation Peter Pan about America s new reconciliation with Castro and the Cuban government Obama appears to want to normalize things as much as possible My friend gave me five books to read This was the second and I hope none of the others will be as disturbing as this one was The treatment of political prisoners in Cuba is deplorable and inhumane The author of this book was imprisoned for TWENTY TWO YEARS for disagreeing with the government He was subjected to treatment worse than any animal should have to endure, much less a human.The Castros are not America s friends, no matter what anyone would have you believe Read this book it s difficult but essential, in my opinion to learn how they treat their own. Against All Hope Is Armando Valladares Account Of Over Twenty Years In Fidel Castro S Tropical Gulag Arrested InFor Being Philosophically And Religiously Opposed To Communism, Valladares Was Not Released Until , By Which Time He Had Become One Of The World S Most Celebrated Prisoners Of Conscience Interned All Those Years At The Infamous Isla De Pinos Prison From Whose Windows He Watched The Failure Of The Bay Of Pigs Invasion , Valladares Suffered Endless Days Of Violence, Putrid Food And Squalid Living Conditions, While Listening To Castro S Firing Squads Eliminating Counter Revolutionaries In The Courtyard Below His Cell Valladares Survived By Prayer And By Writing Poetry Whose Publication In Europe Brought His Case To The Attention Of International Figures Such As French President Francois Mitterand And To Human Rights Organizations Whose Constant Pressure On The Castro Regime Finally Led To His Release I didn t finish this book, not because it doesn t deserve to be read it does I just had too strong a feeling of deja vu I ve read too many stories like this one I feel a bit bad about it, but I just want to move on with my reading I wish I had heard about this book many years ago, maybe it would have helped me better to understand what I saw in Cuba when I was there No excuse for it, really, but I absolutely didn t understand what dictatorship meant when I was there Couldn t understand why people acted I thought weirdly when I or some of my friends said or did something which could potentially be dangerous not to us, but perhaps to the Cubans For example, how our hosts freaked out when we wanted to travel without supervision across the island to see Fidel himself give a speech What could be wrong in wanting to see Fidel, we thought Of course, they were afraid we d see something we shouldn t on the way In the end, we could go, but it did cause a lot of fuss Maybe we couldn t understand, we were young I don t know I just wish I had understood better, earlier Also I wish there was an update of sorts, exactly how strict is the regime today Anyway, bottom line is, all dictatorships are murderous and all Communist regimes are dictatorships I m just sad it took me so long to understand that. Mandatory reading along with Jorge Masetti s In the Pirate s Den, which allows to see the other side the middle class, comfortable punk turned communist, the appropriate acolyte for Castro s genocide.This book is a victory of faith and resilience against totalitarianism Castro deceived the poor, the peasants of Cuba He perverted the revolution the people were expecting Castro had declared a thousand times that he was not a communist and that the revolution was greener than palm trees , but when he got the power he proclaimed unashamedly the true nature of his beast.This books stands as an invaluable monument to the Cubans whom Castro broke but never bent Those who refused to sayYes, Commissar, I have done wrong I accept Political Rehabilitation because I see now that communism is the only just system, and it alone can bring happiness to humanityp.358.Notes on communismThe authorities thought, over, that weeding out the cabecillas leaders would leave the less educated, less dangerous prisoners, lacking leadership, easier to manipulate but if there is any ideology based completely on a misunderstanding of human behavior and the workings of man s psyche, their motivations, that ideology is without doubt Marxism time would show that every man s conscience, system of values, and personal pride were what led him to resist No man needed another to show him the wayp.219A communist always seems to prefer an angry, blurted, uncontrolled manner of speech from their opponents The truth, spoken calmly to his face always exasperates him As what I said was unarguable, the two men turned angrily and walked awayp.477.I have to encourage the reader to get hold of this astounding book if only for the story of Alfredo Izaguirre pp.239 242The only prisoner I know of who never performed any forced labor for his jailers not even a minute s It is fitting that his name go down in the history of the rebellion of the Cuban political prisons On Castro s true revolutionary companions Eloy Guti rrez Menoyoled the bloody fighting against Batista s Army in the mountains of Escambray , he had the sympathy of every peasant there but Eloy had fought to establish a truly democratic system in Cuba, not another dictatorship Therefore when he saw that Castro was becoming a tyrant, he fled the country a while later he came back with a small group of armed men who tried to reach the mountains to continue the struggle But he was trapped, captured and sentenced to 30 years in prison.Rafael del Pino had been one of Castro s closest allies when Castro was in Mexico preparing the Granma landing One night Castro confided his plans for Cuba to Rafael, and Rafael was so shocked at their totalitarian aspect that he abandoned Fidel Castro never forgave Rafael that betrayal Rafael was jailed In 1977 he died in jail No one ever saw the body The Ministry of the Interior flatly refused to turn it over to his family Ex commander Mario Chaves, who had assaulted the Moncada barracks with Castro, been in prison with him, and accompanied him on the Granma landing, was brutally beaten in jail and literally dragged to the punishment cellsp.458 Pierre Golendorf, a French marxist intellectual who had come to Cuba and worked for the Cuban government realized that the island was one big farm that Castro ran like a slave plantation he wrote letters about the lie the revolution had turned into the political police accused him, like everyone who stood up to the revolution, of being an agent of the CIA He got 3 years and 2 months in prisonThe tribunals do nothing but read sentences imposed by politiciansSpain is not very different today See how judge G mez de Lia o was disposed of his toga for sentencing a big pro Statist media shot the El Pa s media group.Children of the DevilOne would naturally assume him to be a doctor, but he wasn t He had been a traveling salesman for medical supply companies This man, Dr Herrera Sotolongo, a Spanish communist, had fled to Cuba because of the civil war in Spain, and thanks to the solidarity of the Cuban revolution with Spanish communism, he had become chief of all medical services of all jails and prisons in Cuba And you always had to call him doctor, or he wouldn t answer you He knew nothing at all about medicine, of course, but he was a man the leader could trustp.233 234 The Western world s ignominious role Conversation between Martha, Valladares wife, and Pierr Schori, social democrat big shot in SwedenSo if you know there s an implacable dictatorship in Cuba, if you know all liberties have been suspended, why don t you speak out Because that would be giving the Americans a publicity weapon Schori warned her not to speak to the press about this interview Perhaps he didn t want to provoke Fidel This indescribable book by Valladares, who should be the president of Cuba and give Castro a tour of his own jails and lacks, ends by remembering one of the anonymous victims in this genocide, a Christian martyr at his moment of death a heart overflowing with love, raising his arms to the invisible heaven and pleading for mercy for his executioners Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do And a burst of machine gun fire ripping open his breast Valladares writes beautifully, and even through all the horrors ofthan 20 years of torture described here he keeps a tone of hope, of mysterious sanity and confidence all along, and which assures him that what he s doing is write, according to his conscience and to the power the Almighty God sustains him with Why is this book unpublished in Spanish speaking countries or so hard to find That s another ignominy. Shortly after Castro s death I got into a conversation with several people who were mourning his death, at the time I said good riddance, the world, and Cuba was a better place without him Of course they said it was a horrible thing to say and started telling me all the good things he did for Cuba like education I don t think this is true, I think the gains in Cuba were going to happen regardless, literacy rates went up everywhere in the second half of the 20th century, but even if it were true, the cost to the Cuban people was far too high for any benefit Fidel may have initiated.Against All Hope is a record of just how brutal the revolution was Armando Valladares was arrested for speaking against communism, he was deemed an anti revolutionary because he said he didn t think communism would work While in prison he suffered beatings, malnutrition, starvation, humiliation, torture both physical and psychological, watched other prisoners get stabbed or shot, all political prisoners whose crime was speaking out speaking out against communism and or the regime.This is a hard read, the content is not for the squeamish, but it should be required reading in every high school There was and is a regime every bit as bad as the Nazis that has survived just off the coast of Florida forthan 50 years, and most Americans don t even know it. A revealing memoir on life as a political prisoner during Cuban communism under Castro After reading a couplefactual accounts of oppression under communism, it was a good change of pace to read a personal memoir with a littlenarrative and heart to it Valladares account shows him to be a man with incredible faith in God and a truly indomitable spirit. The author was a political prisoner in Cuba for twenty years for refusing to support Fidel Castro Castro treated his political prisoners harshly I ll never forget his description of the prisoners being forced to wade through a ditch filled with excrement In contrast, Castro enjoyed a comfortable stay when he was imprisoned by the previous dictator, Batista In fact, Batista had even allowed Communists to serve in his government After the revolution, hundreds of Batista s soldiers were executed without trial by Raul Castro Cuba s While in prison, Valladares heard many people being executed Their bodies were taken by the National Institute for Agrarian reform, taken to Cristobal Colon Cemetery in Havana and buried in a common grave Agrarian Reform Chief Antonio N ez Jim nez declared 1961 to be the Year of the Firing Squad One of the places Valladares was imprisoned was the prison on Isle of Pines Isla de Pinos , which was the largest prison in Cuba The island had an area of 58 square miles When Valladares entered the prison there, they confiscated the wooden crucifix he wore around his neck and stomped on it At one point in 1967 the prison authorities decided to conceal the large magnitude of the number of political prisoners present by forcing the political prisoners, who had been wearing khaki uniforms, to change into the same blue uniforms that the common criminals wore One thing I have noticed about totalitarian regimes is the fact that no matter how brutal they are, they make an effort to conceal that brutality from the civilized world For example, the Nazis sent the Jews of Western Europe to the East to be killed, instead of killing them in, say, France or the Netherlands, where the executions would have beeneasily discovered This is why it is so terribly important to shine a light on the dark, hidden corners of the world It is too late to help the victims of the Nazis and Communists, but by revealing their crimes, we can becomeable to prevent such crimes from happening in the future The largest group of people currently oppressed in the world is, in my opinion, women living under Sharia fundamentalist Islam Valladares was released after twenty years of imprisonment, due to the efforts of his wife and human rights organizations What most impressed me about the book was the unshaken religious faith of Castro s political prisoners I guess Jesus islovable than Marx and Lenin. I loathe communism and also cannot stand it when others like and romanticize Castro This was an extremely difficult read The author refused to support Castro and because of that, he was a prisoner under dreadfully harsh and gruesome conditions Reading about what those prisoners went through was heartbreaking to say the least Their strong, unshakeable religious faith was incredible I was utterly exhausted The lack of sleep and the tension were seriously affecting me I sought God then My conversations with Him brought me a spiritual strength that gave me new energy I never asked Him to get me out of there I didn t think that God should be used for that kind of request I only asked that He allow me to resist, that He give me the faith and spiritual strength to bear up under these conditions without sickening with hatred I only prayed for Him to accompany me And His presence, which I felt, made my faith an indestructible shield As a result of his wife s efforts and human rights organizations, he was finally released after 20 years Some of my favorite quotes Man is Nature s most wonderful creature Torturing him, crushing him, murdering him for his beliefs and ideas isthan a violation of human rights it is a crime against all humanity My response to those who still try to justify Castro s tyranny with the excuse that he has built schools and hospitals is this Stalin, Hitler and Pinochet also built schools and hospitals, and like Castro, they also tortured and assassinated opponents They built concentration and extermination camps and eradicated all liberties, committing the worst crimes against humanity Unbelievably, while many non governmental organizations like Amnesty International and America s Watch have denounced the human rights situation in Cuba, there has been a continuing love affair on the part of the media and many intellectuals with Fidel Castro Those who hated the crimes of Pinochet closed their eyes when the same crimes were committed by Castro The posture of many countries was governed by their hostility against the United States, and they excused Castro out of a reflexive anti Americanism The enemy of my enemy is my friend These political games still take place today I have become convinced that hatred towards the U.S has been a chief reason for Castro s longevity in power Every effort to get the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations even to consider our denunciations was fruitless We sent that organization detailed information about the tortures, the murders, the plans to blow us up with the explosives installed in the Circulars, but it did nothing The prestigious Commission on Human Rights had deaf ears and blind eyes for what was happening in the Cuban political prisons Exactly the same thing happened with the International Red Cross Talking to it about violations of human rights in Cuba was like talking to a post it refused to listen Cuban political prisoners simply did not exist Why get upset about them, then Years later, the Red Cross came to believe what it had been told The United Nations as a whole and its individual nations know about the horrors of the Cuban jails, but they don t dare condemn Cuba in their annual assemblies. Great illustration of what it is REALLY like under Castro Every communism apologist liberal would do well to read this true story.

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  • Paperback
  • 423 pages
  • Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag
  • Armando Valladares
  • English
  • 11 November 2018
  • 9781893554191

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