Friday, February 28, 2014

Former Commander Huber Matos Dies

Former Commander Huber Matos Dies
Posted on February 28, 2014

Former commander of the Cuban revolution Huber Matos Benítez, one of the
most important figures of the opposition to the regime of the Castros,
died early Thursday morning in a Miami hospital, reported his
organization Independent and Democratic Cuba (CID). He was 95.

Matos (born in Yara, Granma province, on November 26, 1918) had been
admitted two days earlier to Kendall Regional Hospital "where he was
diagnosed with a massive heart attack" according to the CID report.

"On the 26th he asked to be disconnected from breathing equipment
because he wanted to say farewell to his wife María Luisa Araluce, his
children and grandchildren," it added.

The organization said that during his hospitalization Matos received
call from Cuba from the principal leaders of his party, "who affirmed
that the organization would not rest until the island was free."

According to CID, shortly before he died Matos declared "The fight goes
on. Long live free Cuba!"

There will be a wake in Miami next Sunday for the former commander, who
participated in the struggles that brought Fidel Castro to power and
then spent 20 years in prison on the island for dissenting from the
direction that the regime took.

CID said that Matos requested that his body be taken to Costa Rica, the
country that welcomed him when he was first exiled in 1957 and from
which he went to the Sierra Maestra to join Fidel Castro's men.

Costa Rica was also Matos's first destination in 1979 when he was
released after serving two decades of political imprisonment imposed by
the regime.

"I want to make my trip back to Cuba from the same land whose people
always showed me solidarity and affection; I want to rest on Costa Rican
soil until Cuba is free and from there to Yara, to rejoin my mother and
my father and all Cubans," Matos explained about his wishes.

Huber Matos, a school teacher, opposed the dictatorship of Fulgencio
Batista. He was captured in 1957 for participating in operations
providing logistical support to the rebels who were in the Sierra
Maestra, but managed to escape into exile in Costa Rica.

In the Central American country he gathered weapons that arrived on a
cargo plane in the Sierra Maestra and were instrumental in the offensive
against Batista's troops.

Because of his courage and leadership, Matos was the rebel who rose
fastest through the ranks to commander, as head of the Antonio Guiteras
9th Column, in charge of the positioning, surrender, and capture of the
city of Santiago de Cuba.

In 1959 he was named Commander of the Army in Camaguey province. Having
discussed several times with Fidel Castro the increasing alignment of
the revolution with communism, he resigned, stating that this was a
betrayal of the democratic principles that the Revolution had promised
the Cuban people. In response, Castro ordered his arrest on October 21,
1959, a week before the mysterious disappearance of Camilo Cienfuegos,
who according Matos shared his concerns.

Matos was subjected to a summary trial for sedition in December 1959.
During the process, he insisted on denouncing the deviation from the
goal of the revolutionary movement for which he and others had risked
their lives.

He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, which he served in full.

In exile, Matos tirelessly denounced the betrayal by the Castro regime.

In 1980 in Caracas he founded Independent and Democratic Cuba, with
social democratic leanings, today headquartered in Miami, and claiming
activists throughout the island.

In his autobiography How Came the Night, which, according to CID has
sold over 100,000 copies and that circulates clandestinely in Cuba,
Matos recounts in detail his participation in the revolutionary army,
his subsequent imprisonment and the tortures to which he was subjected.

Diario di Cuba, 27 February 2014

Translated by Tomás A.

Source: Former Commander Huber Matos Dies | Translating Cuba -

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