14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2017 — Cuban politician Armando Hart Dávalos died on Sunday afternoon in Havana at 87 years of age due to respiratory failure, according to the official press. The news was announced in the midst of the commemoration of the first anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro.
Born on 13 June 1930, Hart Dávalos graduated as a lawyer from the University of Havana, where he joined the Orthodox Youth and actively participated in the student agitation. In those years he was also part of the National Revolutionary Movement of democratic, patriotic and anti-imperialist projections.
He participated in the uprising of 30 November 1956 in Santiago de Cuba to support the landing of the yacht Granma, which brought 82 members of the 26th of July Movement from Mexico to Cuba, including Fidel and Raul Castro and Che Guevara. In 1957 he met Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra and guided him to the place where journalist Herbert Matthews from The New York Times was waiting to interview the guerrilla leader; Matthews’ article catapulted Castro’s profile to great prominence in international public opinion.
A short time later Hart Dávalos was arrested and sentenced to several years in prison, but while being taken to court he managed to escape and rejoined the clandestine struggle. After that incident he was appointed National Coordinator of the 26th of July Movement.
In January of 1958 Hart Dávalos was again arrested and sent to prison, where he remained until the triumph of the rebels. During the next decades of his life he would be one of the most loyal followers of Fidel Castro and a tireless apologist for the decisions made by the Maximum Leader.
The young man from Havana was part of the national leadership of the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) and the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (PURSC). In 1965 he was elected a member of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Hart Dávalos was appointed Minister of Culture at the creation of the ministry in 1976 and remained in that post until 1997. His term followed the infamous Quinquenio Gris (The Five Grey Years) and was not exempt from purges, editorial censorship and punishments against critical voices.
Subsequently he went on to direct the Office of the Martiano Program, attached to the Council of State, the role of which is to study and promote the legacy of José Martí.
He married Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado, a fellow revolutionary and director of Casa de las Américas, who committed suicide in July 1980. The couple had two children, Celia Hart Santamaría and Abel Hart Santamaría, who both died in a car crash in Havana in 2008.
Among the books by Hart Dávalos are titles such as Aldabonazo (Wake-up Call, 1997) and Con la honda martiana (With José Martí’s Slingshot, 2009). He received the Order José Martí on his 80th birthday and the José Martí National Prize for Journalism in February of this year, in addition to many other official decorations.
His remains will lie in state at the Center for José Martí Studies, at Calzada and 4th, in Vedado, until 10 am on Monday and then, by family decision, will be cremated.
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