Ricardo Alarcon, Cuban trusted man for relations with the United States, dies at the age of 84

HAVANA, May 1 (Reuters) – Ricardo Alarcon, one of Cuba’s most powerful men under former President Fidel Castro and a key player in relations with the United States, died on Saturday night in Havana, a announced his family.

The former diplomat was one of the architects of the first migratory dialogue between Washington and Havana in 1978, the year in which negotiations also began with a group of representatives of the Cuban community in the United States.

Alarcon played a key role in brokering an immigration deal with the United States that ended a mass exodus of Cubans by sea in 1994. He also played a pivotal role in organizing the return from castaway youngster Elian Gonzalez of parents in Miami to his father in Cuba in 2000.

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The cigar-smoking, rum-sipping Alarcon, invariably dressed in a white guayabera, at one point became the third most powerful man in the country’s Communist Party elite after Fidel and Raul Castro.

He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1992 and 1993, then served as President of the National Assembly for 20 years until he was removed from office and from the political leadership in power.

No reason was given for Alarcon’s downfall, but his closest aide, Miguel Alvarez, had been arrested the previous year for being a US spy and standard procedure in such cases is to consider all contacts compromise.

Alarcon remained a loyal member of the Revolution despite his political downfall.

“In Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, the master of diplomats of our generation, we will always have deep respect, admiration and infinite affection,” tweeted Deputy Foreign Minister Josefina Videl, Cuba’s chief negotiator with the United States. administration of former US President Barack Obama. Sunday.

Alarcon was born on May 21, 1937. From an early age, he participated in the July 26 Movement, the revolutionary organization that overthrew US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Alarcon was later one of the leaders of the Federation of University Students and later of the Union of Young Communists, the youth wing of the ruling Communist Party.

During his years as head of parliament, Alarcon played an important role in the island’s campaign for the release of five Cuban intelligence agents who had been sentenced to long prison terms in the United States for espionage.

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Reporting by Marc Frank; additional reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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