Veteran Cuban dissident Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, a former Fidel Castro loyalist who was wounded in the attack that launched the revolution but was later imprisoned as a dissident, has died, a close family friend said. He was 79.
Clara Villar, a close family friend and neighbour of the Arcos family, and a woman who answered the phone at the Calzada YK mortuary near his home, said Arcos died in Havana at 11:40 am (2110 IST) on Tuesday.
"He was one of the most respected people in the human rights movement in Cuba," said Carlos Menendez, of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation, which traces its roots to the group Arcos led in the late 1970s and 1980s. Menendez characterized Arcos as "moral, selfless and courageous."
The exact cause of death was unknown, and exactly where he died in the capital was not immediately clear, but Arcos had been hospitalised recently for respiratory and kidney problems. Arcos' remains were to be cremated and no memorial service was immediately scheduled, the woman at the mortuary said.
Born on December 19, 1926, in the small central Cuban town of Caibarien, Arcos was studying diplomatic law at the University of Havana when he first met Castro.
Deeply opposed to the government of Fulgencio Batista, Arcos joined Castro's ill-fated 1953 assault on a military barracks that launched the Cuban revolution. Arcos was shot in the right hip and left partially paralysed.
Imprisoned, the survivors were later freed under a pardon and Arcos travelled with the group to Mexico to organize a rebel army.