Huber Matos Benitez, Cuban opponent of Castro, dies at 95
By Laura Wides-Munoz, Published: February 27
Huber Matos Benitez, who helped lead the Cuban Revolution as one of
Fidel Castro's key lieutenants before his efforts to resign from the
burgeoning communist government landed him in prison for 20 years, died
Feb. 27 at a hospital in the Miami area. He was 95.
He had a heart attack, his grandson Huber Matos Garsault told the
Mr. Matos was a 34-year-old rice farmer and teacher — and an opponent of
Cuban dictator Gen. Fulgencio Batista — when Castro led a failed
uprising in 1953. Mr. Matos later joined Castro and served as a
commander in the Sierra Maestra mountains.
The two clashed on occasion, but Mr. Matos claimed that at one point
Castro named him third in line for leadership after Castro's brother
Raúl and ahead of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Mr. Matos maintained.
In a May 2009 interview with the AP at his home in Miami, Mr. Matos said
he joined the revolution hoping to restore democracy to his country,
which the island experienced only briefly before Batista led a coup in
1952. Mr. Matos, who had been a professor of education, first traveled
to Costa Rica to obtain weapons and ammunition for delivery to Castro's
forces before eventually joining the rebels in the mountains. He was
captured in 1957 by Batista forces but was able to escape, according to
The revolution overthrew Batista on New Year's Day 1959, and Mr. Matos
rolled into Havana at Castro's side. But within months a disillusioned
Mr. Matos wanted out of the new government, fearing the Castros and
Guevara were steering the country toward communism, and that Fidel
Castro had no intention of holding free elections as he had promised.
"There was another agenda," Mr. Matos told the AP in 2009. "Fidel said
one thing for the public, and the steps he took were another story."
When he first tried to resign, Castro wouldn't let him. In October 1959,
Mr. Matos was arrested and convicted of treason. He was told he would
face the firing squad but believes he was sent to prison instead because
Castro feared he would become a martyr.
In his book, "How Night Fell," Mr. Matos described being tortured and
kept for years in isolation. He was released in October 1979 and was
reunited with his wife and four grown children. He initially lived in
Caracas, Venezuela, where he founded the group Independent and
Democratic Cuba, and later moved to Miami.
"The revolution didn't have to become a catastrophe," Mr. Matos said.
"If [Castro] would have brought reforms within the democratic framework,
Cuba would have been a great country."
Source: Huber Matos Benitez, Cuban opponent of Castro, dies at 95 - The
Washington Post -