Melba Hernández

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Melba Hernandez
Melba Hernandez.png
Born (1921-07-28)28 July 1921
Cruces, Las Villas
Died 9 March 2014(2014-03-09) (aged 92)
Havana, Cuba
Nationality Cuban
Occupation politician and diplomat

Melba Hernández Rodríguez del Rey (28 July 1921 – 9 March 2014) was a Cuban politician and diplomat. She served as the Cuban Ambassador to Vietnam and to Cambodia.[1]


Born in Cruces, Las Villas, Hernández was the only child of mulatto conservative parents who resided in a modern third-floor apartment on Jovellar Street in Vedado district of Havana. She graduated from the University of Havana School of Law in 1943. Hernández worked as a Customs attorney for the Carlos Prio government.[2] [3] She was one of the two women (the other being Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado) involved in the 1953 Moncada Barracks assault. Although she had been practicing law for a decade, during the Moncada trial she chose not to defend herself, as Fidel Castro did, and was instead represented by Jorge Paglieri Cardero. She was sentenced to 7 months in prison. She was later declared "Heroina del Moncada". In the early 1960s she was in charge of women's prisons in Cuba.

She had been a Deputy in the National Assembly of People’s Power since 1993 (she previously served from 1976–1986) representing the municipality of 10 de Octubre. Hernández had been a member of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba since 1986. She had also served as the Secretary General of OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity of the People of Asia, Africa & Latin America).

She was married to Jesús Montané Oropesa, a top aide to Fidel Castro, until his death in 1999.

She died of complications from diabetes on 9 March 2014.[4]

Cuban Revolution[edit]

Melba Hernandez was an active member of the Cuban revolution. She was one of the most commonly know women that fought alongside Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolutionary war against Fulgencio Bautista. She later became one of the four staff member of Fidel Castro.[5]

26 of July Movement[edit]

Melba Hernandez was one of the women who participated in the 26th of July Movement. She helped the movement by obtaining 100 soldiers' uniform and stitching different ranks on them. The uniforms were used to attack the Moncada Barracks.[6] The attack, led by Fidel Castro, failed and Fidel Castro, Melba Hernandez, Haydée Santamaria, and the remaining survivors of the attack were arrested. The Bautista government sentenced Fidel Castro to 15 years in prison since he was the leader of the attack, and Melba and Haydée were sentenced to 7 months in prison.

After 5 months Melba and Haydee were released. Melba kept in contact with Fidel Castro, and she was getting order of how to run the 26 of July Movement. Melba also then published Castro's "History Will Absolve Me" speech.[7] "History Will Absolve Me" was a speech that Fidel Castro wrote while in prison that talk about his will and future of Cuba. After Castro was released in 1955, they rejoin forces in Mexico where they kept planning for the guerrilla army and the Cuban Revolution. Melba Hernández return to Cuba to help out Fidel Castro with his movement, and then she became a Rebel Army combatant in the Third Eastern Front. Later, Melba Hernández was given the name "Heroine of the Cuban Revolution" for her actions during the Cuban Revolutionary war.

After the Cuban Revolution[edit]

Melba Hernandez took a role in the new government run by Fidel Castro. She became the head of the Cuban Committee in Solidarity with Vietnam in the 1960s to 1970s. She was the ambassador to Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1980s. She was the vice president of the Anti-Imperialist Tribunal of Our America, the secretary general of Organization in Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (OSPAAL), director of the Communist Party's Center for Asian Studios, and deputy in Cuba's National Assembly between 1976 and 1986 and was re-elected in 1993.[8]


  1. ^ Melba Hernández Rodríguez del Rey Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ de la Cova, Antonio, "The Moncada Attack: Birth of the Cuban Revolution". University of South Carolina Press, 2007, p. 34
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas (16 March 2014). "Melba Hernandez, 92, confident of Castro, from first volley, is dead". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Rodriguez, Andrea (10 March 2014). "Melba Hernandez, a 'heroine of the Cuban Revolution,' dies at 92". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Melba Hernandez | Cuban revolutionary". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  6. ^ "Melba Hernandez | Cuban revolutionary". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  7. ^ "Melba Hernandez, a 'heroine of the Cuban Revolution,' dies at 92". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  8. ^ "The Militant - March 31, 2014 -- Melba Hernández: Combatant and leader of Cuban Revolution". Retrieved 2016-11-22. 


  • Deltona Beach Morning Journal; Plead In; 30 September 1953
  • PBS; American Experience | Fidel Castro | People & Events; 21 December 2004