Created: 8/22/1980

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Cuba: Death of Tvo Heroines

The deaths this year of two important femaleof the Cuban revolution could/

some Cubans to question the current couflf THhe death of Celiana long bout with cancer deprived President Fidel

Castro of tbe moderating influence and emotionala principal adviser and confidante. The suicideSantamaria,n July has prompted personal commit-

Coraaumst regime-: JTneroine from thedays of the revolution, Santamaria had long been revered as an exaaple of revolutionary courage and Their deaths have coneine of serious difficulties for Cuba and concern about the future.


Celia Sanchez was Minister-Secretary of the Council of State and oneandful of worsen belonging to the Communist Party Central Committee since its foundings. Working directly underupervision, she hai been responsible blnce the triiuipn of the revolution9 foremblance of order in the Cuban leader's public and private lives. She was tasked with ensuring that all of Castro's orders were carried out; screening people who wished to see him; answeringf hi& correspondence; responding to popular grievances; and actingoordinator between Castro and othervetnment officials. She also servedridge between Castro and the Cuban people, interceding with hia to plead the cause of many petitions lost in the Cuban bureaucracy.

Sarchez's deathersonal loss to President

Castro. She had

as his secretary ana* raosT"trusted confidante since the guerrilla days of the Sierra Haestra. For most of, her apertaent in Bavana had been Castro's home

and Cubanrs quarters. He sought hermany natters requiring adecision andher recommendations.

"The Cirl of Honcada"

Haydee Santaaaria ranked with Sanchez as one of those almost mythical figures from the earliest days of the revolutionary struggle against President Fulgencio Batista. She was one of only two woaen whohe Attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba led by Castro onirth of the revolution.

Santaaaria's connection with the anti-Batistawas laden with personal tragedy and suffering. Many ofan attacking force were killed; Santamaria'B brother, Abel, and her fiance, Boris Luis Santacolona, were captured and tortured to death. Santaaaria also was captured and forced to endure the tortures of her two loved ones,

later stood trial with Fidel


and Raul Caatro and the few other survivors of thei>tiVeVttack, and was sentenced to seven months impnson-

After her release, she became known as "the girl ofegend of courage, sacrifice, and dedication built around her. Santamaria, however, was ill,I


Moreover, sheorld indifferent to

the tragedy of Moncada.

ebt to her dead menuickening offor which they had perished. She became theforce behind the formation of Castro'sJuly Movement following Castro's release from prison

d)nd she served on its nationaltireless organizational work made her one of the

most important figures in the rebel movement. She was largely responsible for organizing and securing funds for the Sierra Maestra guerrillas, and without her the revolutionary struggle might never have gotten off the ground. By the fallunted by Batista's police, she fled to the United States where she continued to raise funds for the rebel movement until victory was achieved in

During the early years of therominent public position befittingand close friendship with Castro. She waswoman on the national directorates of the twothat preceded the Cuban Communist Party (PCC)--

(d)h* Integrated Revolutionary Organizations and the United Party of the socialist Revolution. When the PCC was foundedhe was named to its Central Committee.6 she was elected deputy to the National Assembly and appointed to the Council of state. | )

Santamaria's political influence, however, was more nominal than real. She never belonged to the close-knit, all-male group of Cuban policymakers, but her former husband, Armando Hart,ember of the Politburo and her brother Aldo is Chief of the Cuban Navy and vice Minister of the Armed Forces. Her influence appears to have been limited to having her friends appointed to




various government positions. The job that occupied most of her time andof the Casa de las Americas, an intellectual-culturalno political content. Her involvement with national and international women's groups also was almost devoid of any significant political substance. Even in the cultural field, Santamaria'o role did not extend into




the policymaking area, and her counsel probably was not sought during the cultural retrenchment of the,umber of Cuban intellectuals weres.edyeeverely for their mildly critical positionsis the revolution. Her death, however, may cause further despair among Cuban intellectuals, already hard-presBed by the regiir-'s ideological rigidity.

I3 !C>

Many questions remainabouteath. The manner of herhas not been revealed by Cuban authorities. Theclearly embarrassed byramatic demonstration of personal unhappiness from one of its heroes, blamed it on

) u:


it also expressed ita diaapproval by

rerusTng to givetate funeral aultable to her atatua. Deliveiing the eulogy at her funeral, Politburo member Juan Almeida left no doubt that Santamariaaaic revolutionary ethical principle by aelfiahlyculcide: atter of principle, wecannot agree with suicide. The life of abelongs to hia cauae and his people and he should devote it to service until the last atom of energy and the last second of life." For one whose much vaunted personal sacrifices and dedication on behalf of thehad been held up for so long asexample for other Cubans, thisarticularly significant

suicide could be perceived by someCuban publicinal act ofstatement that the revolutionary dreamshe had sacrificed so much was shattered. be seenasualty of the saggingaffecting many sectors of the population. Atlevels of the country's leadership, theof Santamaria's death two days afters likely toenae ofthis juncture inyear-old revolution. on the heels of Celia Sanchez's death, 'd) 'eUtodaVielBo might


The Future for Women

Despite the often-claimed liberating impact ofon Cuban woraun, they have remainedfrom the leadership. No woman has everthe party's Politburo or ita Secretariat. Outentral Conmittee membersnly9 percent) weref these were alternates, clearly aposition.

The deaths of Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria accentuate the underrepresented status of women on the country's government group. The next PCC congressfor0 may elect more women to the Central committee, but it ia doubtful that female representation


in governing bodies will improveforeseeable future. Moreover,ntamaria were more than just Central Committee members; .hey were icrep-dceable heroines of the revolution and role models for cuoanwomen. Their loss could hamper governmentto motivate women toward greater sacrifices on behalf of the revolution.

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