Torture in Cuba
July 2012
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A letter to Cuba's American

Published: 4:53 PM 07/17/2012

By Armando Valladares

Editor's Note: The author was appointed by Ronald Reagan to

serve as United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Commission in Geneva. He was later awarded the Presidential Citizen's Medal.

Alan P.

Havana, Cuba

Dear friend:

That is how I am compelled to address you, because even though we have

never met, we share a common bond: I too lived behind the iron bars now

surrounding you in Cuba — in my case for 22 years.

Like you, I was convicted by the Cuban authorities without a single

shred of evidence against me.

I know the anguish of interminable days and endless nights, the feeling

of helplessness when you know yourself to be innocent. I also know the

painful sense of the lack of solidarity from outside the walls.

I have no doubt that your greatest pain right now must be the

realization that the U.S. government has turned its back on you. There

was a time when the words "I am an American citizen" meant something.

They meant all the more when the individual declaring that was the

target of abuse outside of the United States. It meant: "I have rights

and they are recognized by the government of my country and they will

ensure that you, too, respect my rights."

It gives me great sadness to say that inside the Communist boot that now

tramples upon your dignity is the foot of the American president, Barack


The more Castro's thugs oppress you and make your family suffer, the

more your jailers torture you, the harder things get for you — the more

this administration seeks to reward them with new concessions. How is it

that in 53 years of Cuba's brutal dictatorship it was only months after

Obama came to the presidency that the Castro brothers first decided to

take an American citizen hostage?

How is it possible that the American administration has turned its back

on you?

The pronouncements by the U.S. Department of State that U.S. officials

are doing "everything they can" to secure your are absolutely

false. They are hypocritical statements not backed by any real action.

Under any previous U.S. administration, Democrat or Republican, you

would not still be in jail.

Your case has no precedent in the history of the United States. You are

in prison because of the supreme cowardice of the American president and

his secretary of state. Whether they know it or not, the key to your

cell is inside President Obama's pocket.

The White House has abandoned you. It does not matter to them that you

may be very ill and slowly dying.

It does not matter to them that your daughter has cancer, or that your

wife, too, is ill.

The American president, who has made a habit of publicly bowing to

foreign powers, bows to your torturers and would-be executioners.

Meanwhile, the adult daughter of Cuba's recently visited the

U.S. to applaud and show her support for President Obama. She receives a

visa to come to the United States and a Secret Service escort. And you?

You suffer the torture of imprisonment.

The Obama administration must step up its efforts to press for your

release through its diplomatic channels. Should those diplomatic efforts

fail, then they must be followed by real action, including the

suspension of flights and remittances to Cuba until such time as you are

allowed to return to the United States. If the Obama administration even

threatened to do this it is my considered judgment that you would be on

the next flight back to your home in Washington, D.C.

Only with real action will your freedom be secured. Unfortunately, if

past is prologue, such action is unlikely to ever happen with this


After I was released from prison, President Ronald Reagan appointed me

as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

During my tenure at the U.N., we managed to expose to the world, for the

first time, Cuba's systematic violations of fundamental rights and

freedoms. You know these violations all too well. They are now marked on

your own flesh. You will have your day in the international court, too.

You will have the opportunity to expose your jailers and the suffering

they have imposed on 11 million people for more than half a century.

Please do not lose faith. You are not alone in that cell. God is there

with you, along with the love of your brave wife and the firm commitment

of those of us who continue to fight for your freedom. Do not give in to

despair or to the treachery of those who have abandoned you. I am

convinced, from my own experience, that you will return home, against

all hope …

You are always in my prayers.

Armando Valladares

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