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In Passing

Roberto Maestas, Latino leader

Seattle – Roberto Maestas, a founder of El Centro de La Raza and a leading advocate for social justice, died of lung cancer Wednesday at the University of Washington Medical Center. He was 72.

A former Spanish teacher at Seattle’s Franklin High School, Maestas demonstrated for Indian fishing rights, participated in the fight to open up construction jobs to black workers and supported farmworkers, among many other movements and causes.

His nephew, Miguel Maestas, said Maestas was “an incredibly successful leader within the Latino community and helped to build movements and bridges locally, nationally and internationally.”

Through it all, Maestas maintained a sense of humor and perspective.

“The power of his personality lit up any room,” said his friend Larry Gossett, a King County Council member.

Moscow – Gennady Yanayev, a leader of the abortive 1991 Soviet coup who briefly declared himself president replacing Mikhail Gorbachev, has died at age 73.

A statement from Russia’s Communist Party said Yanayev died Friday after an unspecified lengthy illness.

Yanayev was one of 12 members of the so-called State Emergency Committee that announced Gorbachev was being replaced on Aug. 19, 1991. Gorbachev was on a short holiday in the Crimea at the time.

The coup collapsed on Aug. 21, but it fatally weakened the already-unraveling Soviet Union, which was dissolved four months later.

Yanayev and his fellow plotters were arrested and jailed after the coup collapsed, but he and the others were released in 1993.

Hartford, Conn. – Jill Johnston, a cultural critic, memoirist and provocateur whose best-known book, “Lesbian Nation,” emboldened women in the 1970s to identify themselves as lesbians, died Sept. 18. She was 81. The cause was complications from a stroke.

Johnston gained prominence in the 1960s as a dance critic for the Village Voice who wrote knowledgeably about avant-garde choreographers and performers.

With “Lesbian Nation,” published in 1973, Johnston established herself as a radical feminist theorist, proclaiming that lesbianism was not just a personal lifestyle but a political stance necessary for the overturn of patriarchy.


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