(Reuters) - Carlos Fuentes, one of Latin America's most eloquent and widely read authors and a fierce critic of governments, has died after a literary career spanning more than five decades. He was 83.

Fuentes' best-known works include The Death of Artemio Cruz, The Old Gringo and The Crystal Frontier.

Local media said Fuentes died in a Mexico City hospital on Tuesday following heart problems.

Dividing his time chiefly between Mexico City and London, Fuentes dovetailed literature - writing more than 30 books that have been translated into two dozen languages - and social observation throughout his career.

In the 1980s he was a frequent critic of U.S. intervention in Central America and lambasted the effects of U.S. immigration policy on Mexican migrant workers in his mid-1990s novel, La Frontera de Cristal (The Crystal Frontier).

They know they need migrant Mexican labor, without which their harvests, services and many aspects of life would go to ruin, Fuentes once said, calling U.S. policy a farce.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon and other political and cultural leaders quickly paid tribute to Fuentes on Tuesday. I profoundly regret the death of our beloved and admired Carlos Fuentes, writer and universal Mexican, Calderon wrote on his Twitter account.

Fuentes' critical eye was at work from the start of his career. His first novel in 1958, La region mas transparente (Where the Air is Clear), was not only a look at life in Mexico City, now ironically one of the most polluted in the world. It also examined how the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917 had created a new and wealthy elite but did nothing for the impoverished and indigenous masses.

The Old Gringo, the first U.S. bestseller by a Mexican author, was made into a movie in 1989 called Old Gringo starring Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda.

Born in Panama in 1928, Fuentes divided his early years among the United States, Chile and Argentina, following his father's diplomatic postings before going on to study law.

A dapper dresser, he was one of most open critics of Mexico's entrenched political system under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years before it was ousted in 2000 elections.