Melba Hernandez | Cuban revolutionary, 92
Melba Hernandez, 92, one of two women who helped Fidel Castro launch his revolutionary battle with a failed 1953 attack on a barracks and who was later named a "heroine of the Cuban Revolution," died Sunday of complications from diabetes.
With her crown of snowy white curls, Ms. Hernandez was occasionally seen at official events in her later years, accompanied by one or the other of the Castro brothers. Fidel stepped down because of ill health in 2006, passing command to his younger brother, Raul.
At the time of the 1953 assault on the Moncada Barracks, Ms. Hernandez - like Castro - was a young lawyer increasingly fed up with government corruption under Fulgencio Batista.
She signed on to the assault plans and obtained 100 uniforms for the attackers from an army sergeant who later joined the movement.
The assault failed miserably, with many of the attackers killed and the rest, including Castro, arrested.
Ms. Hernandez was also jailed, sentenced to seven months in prison. After her release, she organized rallies for those still jailed.
A member of the rebels' national directorate, she became a member of the guerrilla Third Front. Batista fled Jan. 1, 1959, and Castro took power soon after.
She later helped found the Communist Party of Cuba and served as ambassador to Vietnam and Cambodia. - AP