Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gustavo Arcos Bergnes

The name Gustavo Arcos Bergnes may not mean much to most people inside Cuba – or outside.

So, here is a little history:

Mr Arcos was a young law student when he joined Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, in the ill-fated attack on the Moncada barracks in the city of Santiago, the second largest city in Cuba. That was back in July 1953.

The attack was a total military failure: most of the rebels were easily captured and sent to prison. But it would eventually lead to the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista and his corrupt administration by Castro and his crucifix-wearing barbudos. That was back in January 1959.

Mr Arcos, who had spent much of the late 1950s raising funds and guns through Latin America to support the rebels back home, was then made Cuba’s ambassador to Belgium.

His time there didn’t last long. Unhappy at the way things were going in Havana, he became increasingly critical of the regime and eventually resigned in disgust in 1964.

He returned to Cuba and was imprisoned from 1966 to 1969 for “counter-revolutionary” activities. He was imprisoned again from 1982 to 1988. On his release, he founded the Cuban Pro-Human Rights Committee, which is illegal in Cuba. In the process, he became become the best known and the oldest anti-Castro dissident on the island.

Well, it’s just been confirmed by his family that Mr Arcos, who hasn’t been well for some time, has died in Havana.

He was 79. The same age as Castro. Make of that what you will …
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