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Remembering Castro

"Remembering Castro" Continued...

Issue: "Our long war," March 8, 2008

Both men once believed the cross-wearing Castro could salvage Cuba, but in prison, they clung to God. Valladares described his prison term as "8,000 days" of testing his religious beliefs and battling the desire to hate his jailers.

Matos, who was raised in a Baptist home, says he survived only because "it was God's will." Defying Castro was not particularly courageous, he says. Having understood truth and justice while teaching in the Cuban countryside, he knew "what type of life is worth living."

Valladares, who is now chairman of the New York--based Human Rights Foundation, says Cubans might re-think life after Castro. "In Romania 400,000 people cheered [Nicolae] Ceausescu and the Communist Party, yet nobody would suspect that the very same people could, minutes later, be chanting slogans decrying Communism and condemning Ceausescu," he said. "And it was at that moment that the Romanian dictatorship fell. Who can guarantee that this will not happen in Cuba?"

Matos still remembers how Castro wooed his troops and Havana's crowds. He says an alcoholic Raul cannot match his brother's magnetism. Raul may carry the fading cause for now, but the real boss is gone.

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