Cuba, España y los Estados Unidos | Organización Auténtica | Política Exterior de la O/A | Temas Auténticos | Líderes Auténticos | Figuras del Autenticismo | Símbolos de la Patria | Nuestros Próceres | Martirologio |
Presidio Político de Cuba Comunista | Costumbres Comunistas | Temática Cubana | Brigada 2506 | La Iglesia | Cuba y el Terrorismo | Cuba - Inteligencia y Espionaje | Cuba y Venezuela | Clandestinidad | United States Politics | Honduras vs. Marxismo | Bibliografía | Puentes Electrónicos |
by The Wall Street Journal
Today Western Christendom observes Good Friday, marking the crucifixion of its Messiah almost 2,000 years ago. For Christians, Good Friday is a testament to God's faithful presence in all human suffering. Believers are solemn today, but also joyfully expectant -- as they are meant to be in their own trials -- for their faith teaches that passion and death are followed by the glory of Easter. As well, this week also marks Passover, celebrating Jewish deliverance from Egyptian slavery. These traditions and their meaning are worth a pause for reflection.
Most of our daily concerns here are with politics, on balance a secular activity, and rightly so. It is nonetheless true that politics can be deformed to bad ends, and in ways that force its all-too-human victims to draw on extraordinary resources of body and spirit to survive punishment for beliefs that are secular, religious, or often both.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's Annual Report identifies significant Christian persecution in Afghanistan, Burma, China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. These faraway-sounding places are hardly that for one soul under pressure.
As it happens, this week brought the re-release of one of the late 20th century's most moving testaments to holy faith and courage in a brutal, secular world. Armando Valladares's "Against All Hope" (Encounter Books), first published in 1984 in Spanish, is a 423 page first-person account of 22 years in Fidel Castro's Cuban gulag. Its title comes from St. Paul's letter to the Romans, IV:18, "Who against hope believed in hope . . ."
Mr. Valladares's book is a very personal story of one man, subject to Castro's almost unimaginable barbaric inhumanity, turning toward God, where he found the strength to fend off despair and bitterness, affirm life and survive what has pushed thousands of others to self-destruction or capitulation.
Mr. Valladares was no counterrevolutionary in 1960. But he knew something of communism at the age of 22, and he refused to post a sign in support of it on his desk at the post office where he worked. For this, he was arrested.
Christianity has always been among the chief enemies of the Castro regime. And while the regular discharges of the firing squads at night dominated the earliest days of Mr. Valladares's prison life, so too did the popular cry, just before death, of "Viva Cristo Rey!" Those unnamed martyrs inspired the frightened, lonely young Valladares in his prison cell searching for courage. "I not only understood instantly," he writes, ". . . that Christ was indeed there for me at the moments when I prayed not to be killed, but realized as well that He served to give my life, and death if it came to that, ethical meaning."
Mr. Valladares tells of a brutality that knew no limits. Beatings, torture, sleep deprivation, confinement in "drawer cells" (crypts built into the slope of a hill), infestations, malnutrition, forced labor camps and psychological manipulations and experimentations were all designed to break the spirit.
Eventually he became one of a group known as the "plantados" because of his firm resistance to the regime, and this brought more extreme cruelty. As life grew worse, his faith deepened. "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."
Castro could not know that in Mr. Valladares's mind, he remained free. "They've taken everything away from me -- or almost everything," he wrote, "I still have my smile, the proud sense that I'm a free man, and an eternally flowering garden in my soul."
Perhaps the secular world will never fully comprehend the wellsprings of a profound spirituality such as described here. Suffice to say that we are reminded this week that after centuries of being ground through the political mills, faith flourishes.