Cuba on Tuesday lamented the passing of prominent Haitian intellectual and politician Gerard Pierre-Charles, who died of heart failure in Havana over the weekend.

The Communist Party daily Granma called Pierre-Charles “a tenacious fighter” for the well-being of his Haitian countrymen and a “defender of the most just causes of the Latin American and Caribbean people.”

With his death, the region loses “one of the most relevant intellectual and political figures” and Cuba loses a “loyal friend,” Granma said.

Pierre-Charles died Sunday at Clinica Central Cira Garcia in Havana, where he was receiving emergency treatment for a lung infection. He was 68.

The New York-based National Coalition for Haitian Rights issued a statement offering condolences to Pierre-Charles’ family and colleagues and underlining the critical situation in Haiti.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Pierre-Charles did not have the joy of living in a democratic Haiti where mutual respect and human rights would lead to the establishment of modern institutions, able to offer routine as well as emergency care to her sons and daughters,” the statement said.

Involved in politics for half a century, Pierre-Charles was an economist who wrote at least 16 books and a longtime communist whose ideology shifted toward the center after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

He was a leading opponent of his former ally President Jean-Bertrand Aristide up until his ouster in February, accusing him of betraying the poor and drifting toward dictatorship.