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Vilma Espin, first lady of Cuban revolution, dies
With profound sorrow, the leadership of our Party and State announce that Compañera Vilma Espín Guillois, a heroine of the clandestine struggle, an outstanding combatant of the Rebel Army and untiring fighter for the emancipation of women and the defense of the rights of children, passed away in Havana today at 4:14 p.m., after a long and painful illness.

Born in Santiago de Cuba on April 7, 1930 in a family that very early on cultivated the values and ethics that would distinguish her, Vilma from a young age assumed political and revolutionary positions, actively participating in student demonstrations following the coup d'etat carried out by Batista in 1952.

From that time, she was an inseparable collaborator of Frank Pais, joining organizations founded by him in the struggle against the tyrany, until the members of what was then called the National Revolutionary Action, joined the ranks of the 26th of July Movement.

The doors of her home were opened to protect the comrades who attacked the Moncada Garrison, persecuted by troops of the bloody oppressor regime; while preparing a new stage of struggle and then finishing a post-graduate course in the United States, following the orientations of the leadership of the Movement, she stopped in Mexico to meet with Fidel, receiving instructions and messages; under the direct orders of Frank, she took part in the armed uprising of Santiago de Cuba on the 30th of November 1956, in support of the Granma expeditionaries, converting her home, following that important action, into the headquarters of the revolutionary movement in Santiago de Cuba.

A member of the National Leadership of the 26th of July Movement, just before Frank Pais was assassinated, she was named the Provincial Coordinator of the clandestine organization in Oriente, a work that she carried out with particular skill and bravery, until facing constant persecution, she joined the Rebel Army in June 1958, becoming the legendary guerrilla fighter of the Frank Pais Second Western Front and the efficient coordinator of the clandestine movement of Oriente.

Upon the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, immersed in various tasks and on the orders of Fidel, she headed the unification of women's organizations and the constitution of the Federation of Cuban Women, whose organization, from its highest leadership, she consecrated until the last minute of her life.

She was a member of the Central Committee of the Party from its foundation in 1965, which was ratified in all of its Congresses. In 1980, on the occasion of the Second Congress of the Party, she was elected substitute member of the Political Bureau and at the Third Party Congress she was promoted as a full member of the leadership, a responsibility she carried out until 1991. She was a Deputy to the National Assembly since its first legislature and a member of the Council of State since its constitution.

Vilma presided over the National Commission of Prevention and Social Attention from its creation and the Commision of Children and Youth, as well as the Commission on Women's Equal Rights of the National Assembly of People's Power.

Her name will be eternally linked to the most significant conquests of Cuban women in the Revolution and as one of the most important fighters for the emancipation of women in our country and throughout the world.

For her merits, she received many awards and national and international orders, among them the honorable title of Heroine of the Republic of Cuba.

According to her wishes, Compañera Vilma Espín will be cremated. Her ashes will be desposited, in a ceremony that will be strictly for her family, and burial will be with military honors, at a time that will be announced later, in the Mausoleum of the Frank Pais Second Front, where the remains of other heroic combatants of the Front lie.

In her memory, our people, with profound feelings of sorrow, will render a heartfelt homage at the José Martí Memorial in Havana, at the Salón de los Vitrales, and at the base of the monument to Antonio Maceo in her native and heroic city, Santiago de Cuba, beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting until 5 p.m., tomorrow, June 19th. At those same times, homages will be paid to her in the rest of the provinces.

In her honor, the leadership of the Party and Cuban State has decided to observe a solemn ceremony at the Karl Marx Theater, tomorrow at 6 :00 p.m., headed by leaders, the National Leadership of the FMC and the provincial Secretariats of this women's organization, as well as women of the capital and representatives of the diverse sectors of Cuban society.

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