Thursday, June 28, 2007

Last survivor of Cuba's 1940 constitution dies

Posted on Wed, Jun. 27, 2007

Last survivor of Cuba's 1940 constitution dies
El Nuevo Herald

Emilio ''Millo'' Ochoa, the last surviving signer of Cuba's 1940
constitution, died Wednesday -- a week shy of turning 100.

With Ochoa's passing, the last marker of Cuba's true constiututional
democracy has disappeared.

Born July 4, 1907, in Holguín, in eastern Cuba, Ochoa was raised in a
poor family that included six brothers. He never abandoned his studies,
even as he worked rolling tobacco leaves.

As a young man in Cuba, Ochoa, a dentist, became engulfed in Cuba's
tumultuous politics. Tired of the corruption that swallowed Cuba's
government, he helped form Cuba's ''People Party,'' the Orthodox Party.
Fidel Castro was also among its young members.

Ochoa was elected senator in 1940 and served until 1948. He was a fierce
opponent of strongman Fulgencio Batista, who suspended Cuba's 1940
constitution in the 1950s.

With Castro's eventual rise to power and his turn toward communism,
Ochoa first fled the island in 1960, but returned a year later, thinking
the Bay of Pigs invasion would reinstate the constitution he had signed.
The mission failed and Ochoa's late son was among those captured and
later released.

He left Cuba again in 1963. After first living in Venezuela, Nebraska
and Chicago, he settled in Miami, where he worked as a cab driver until
his retirement. But in Cuba he left his signature on a document whose
vision Cuban exiles consider a beacon.

He is survived by his wife, Martha Herrera, who he married in 1986.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Miami Herald staff writer Luisa Yanez contributed to this report.

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