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Cuba Quietly Says Good-Bye to Armando Hart, Revolutionary and First Education Minister

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Armando Hart, a major player in the Cuban revolution, died from respiratory issues on November 26, at the age of 87, according to island officials.

Hart was best known for promoting literacy, education and the arts across Cuba, with a specific interest in prominent island thinkers like Fidel Castro and writer José Martí.

During the funeral, President Raul Castro honored Hart beside Vice President Jose Ramon Machado, each of whom highlighted the “admirable educational and cultural work” he dedicated himself to throughout a four-decade political career.

Hart was a prominent student activist with the island’s Federation of University Students leading up to the 1959 revolution, and eventually joined opposition efforts in Havana during the rise of Fidel Castro’s “26th of July” Movement that overthrew the island’s right-wing government.

He became the country’s first Minister of Education under the new Castro regime, spearheading a literacy program that taught thousands of children how to read and write.

Hart served as Secretary of the Communist Party from 1969 to 1976 — a moment in which the island was embroiled in tumultuous relations with the United States — but later returned to a focus on the arts as Minister of Culture. Throughout that time, he published numerous works about important Cuban thinkers, most notably José Martí, until becoming Director of the government’s Martí Program in 1997.

Hart’s successful literacy program and tenure as Minister of Culture earned him the Order of Felix Varela, First Grade — the highest award given to an individual furthering arts on the island.

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HSN Staff Writers

Max Radwin covers Latin American politics from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Follow his reporting on Instagram at @Max.Radwin

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