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Founder of Cuba’s human rights movement dies

Published: Sunday December 8, 2013 | 10:11 am Comments 0

MADRID, Spain, Dec. 8, CMC – A founder and leading figure of Cuba’s human rights movement and a sharp critic of the Fidel and Raúl Castro governments for decades is dead.

Martha Frayde Barraqué, who died here on Wednesday, was 93.

The Miami Herald reports that Frayde started out, like many Cubans, as an “enthusiastic supporter of Fidel Castro even before his revolution toppled the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in 1959 and promised democracy”.

But she turned against Castro when he imposed a communist system “denied human and civil rights to its citizens and jailed tens of thousands who opposed his rule peacefully”.

Born in Havana, Frayde graduated from the University of Havana’s School of Medicine in 1946 and went on to postgraduate studies at McGill and Montreal Universities in Canada.

On her return to Cuba, she was active in the Orthodox Party. Castro named her to head the National Hospital and the School of Nursing in Havana and later as Cuba’s ambassador to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a post she resigned in 1965.

She began openly criticizing Castro and in 1976 founded the first peaceful opposition group on the island, the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, with Ricardo Bofill.

Frayde was arrested in 1975, accused of “counterrevolutionary” activities and sentenced to 29 years in prison.

Under international pressure, Castro freed her in 1979 after she agreed to leave the country .

Exiled in Spain, she remained the European representative for the Cuban Committee for Human rights and distributed its denunciations of abuses and the horrible conditions in Cuban prisons.

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