Armando Valladares received the 2016 Canterbury Medal on May 12, 2016.
“My story is proof that a seemingly small act of defiance can mean everything to the enemies of freedom. They did not keep me in jail for 22 years because my refusal to say three words meant nothing. They kept me there that long because it meant everything,” said Armando Valladares. “Though my body was in prison and abused, my soul was free and flourished. My jailers took everything from me, but they could not rob me of my conscience.”
2016 Canterbury Medal Award Honoree: Armando Valladares
Armando Valladares is a former political prisoner who spent 22 years in Castro’s gulags for refusing to place a sign on his desk in support of Fidel. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison without due process. While in prison he became a “Plantado”—a prisoner who refuses to wear a common prison uniform. For refusing to sign a document admitting he was wrong and the Revolution was right, he was brutally tortured, spent 8 years in solitary confinement and underwent several hunger strikes which left him paralyzed for many years. During this time, he wrote numerous poems which his wife smuggled out of Cuba and had published to critical acclaim. Valladares was adopted by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience.
In 1982 Valladares was released thanks to an international campaign on his behalf. Upon release, he wrote a New York Times bestselling memoir, Against All Hope, which was translated into 18 languages.
In 1986 he was named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission where he was able to highlight the plight of the more than 15,000 political prisoners in Cuba at the time. In 1989, for the first time ever since the Cuban revolution, the Castro regime was forced to open its doors to a UN investigation. The resulting report was devastating for the regime and culminated with the release of many political prisoners. Valladares continues to advocate for human rights—particularly religious liberty—and lives with his wife in Florida where he continues to write poetry, paint and sculpt. He has three adult children and one granddaughter.
Below you can access to video footage, news stories, images and additional information surrounding the 2016 Canterbury Medal Dinner.
- Media & Images
- Press Releases:
- Former Cuban political prisoner receives 2016 Canterbury Medal (May 13, 2016)
- Never Before Seen Writings, Art from Castro’s Gulags (May 9, 2016)
- Former Cuban Political Prisoner to Receive Becket’s Canterbury Medal (April 12, 2016)
- Cuban Poet Who Spent 22 Years in Castro’s Gulags for Defending His Beliefs Receives Becket’s Canterbury Medal (November 19, 2015)
- Past CMD Winners
Photos from the 2016 Canterbury Gala!