The Cuban exile community has lost another one of its greats. The courageous Roberto Perdomo spent 25 years in a Castro gulag, suffering torture and beatings, but he never gave in to his communist captors. He was one of the famous “plantados,” Cuban political prisoners who refused to wear prison uniforms like the common criminals they were jailed with, spending years imprisoned wearing nothing more than their underwear.
The history of the fight for freedom in Cuba is filled with brave men and women like Roberto Perdomo. He may not have lived long enough to see his homeland free once again, but his legacy will continue and will help shape the future of a free Cuba.
Former political prisoner and ‘plantado’ Roberto Perdomo dies
Former Cuban political prisoner and “plantado” Roberto Perdomo died in the early hours of October 8th in the United States. The anti-Castro fighter was hospitalized and recovering after an operation.
Cuban activist Manuel Milanés felt the loss of Perdomo deeply and wrote, “In God’s glory, he will continue to smile and fight for the freedom of Cuba.”
Spanish journalist Gonzalo Altozano said of Perdomo, “He was a sincere and brave man, born where the palm trees grow; a tough guy forged in the underground movement, prison, and exile.”
Perdomo was a fighter against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista, who turned to opposition after the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959. He served as the head of President Manuel Urrutia’s bodyguards and saved him from being lynched by Castro-supporting mobs.
After becoming disillusioned with the regime, he went back underground. In 1961, he was arrested, tried in a summary trial, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. During his imprisonment, he refused to wear the uniform of a common prisoner, earning him the nickname of a “plantado” (someone who stood firm).
Altozano recalled that Perdomo always maintained an upright attitude in prison, participating in hunger strikes and refusing to wear the uniform.
In 1986, he was released and went into exile in the United States, where he continued to be active in the fight for democracy in Cuba.
He was one of the protagonists in the movie “Plantados” directed by Lilo Vilaplana, which portrays the abuses in Castro’s prisons.