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Mederos, Elena (1900-1981) | University of Miami Finding Aids

Name: Mederos, Elena (1900-1981)

Historical Note:

Elena Mederos (1900-1981) was a human rights and women’s rights activist born in Havana, Cuba.

Mederos was born on January 13, 1900, in Havana and married Hilario González Arrieta on July 2, 1924. She founded the School of Social Services of the University of Havana and the Foundation for Social Services, a private organization devoted to develop standards and programs for children’s institutions in Cuba.

When Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959, Mederos became minister of social welfare but resigned five months later. Mederos fled to the United States in 1961 and immediately joined UNICEF. After trips to Africa and Latin America, she returned to New York and founded Of Human Rights, an organization devoted to informing U.S. politicians and scholars of the plight of Cuban political prisoners. She also founded a successful Cuban exile lobby that was instrumental in the release of thousands of political prisoners. Elena Mederos died in Washington, DC, on September 25, 1981.

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