|Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado and|
Melba Hernández in prision
Special to Rebel Youth
Born in Cruces, Las Villas, Hernández was the only child of conservative parents of mulatto ancestry (mixed Afro-Cuban and White heritage) who resided in a modern third-floor apartment on Jovellar Street in Vedado district of Havana, not far from where Jose Marti Plaza is today.
Graduating from the University of Havana School of Law in 1943, she worked as a Customs attorney for the Carlos Prio government and was a practising lawyer.
Like many in her generation, Hernández grew increasingly fed up with government corruption under dictator Fulgencio Batista, who had seized power in a 1952 coup. Together with Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado, she became one of two women involved in the famous 1953 Moncada Barracks assault. Hernández also helped obtain 100 uniforms for the attackers from a sympathetic army sergeant, sewing on military insignia and pressing the clothes in a nearby farm, hours before the attack before picking up a gun herself.