A sad tally: 2016 documented deaths

Cuba Archive documented 21 cases of death or disappearance in 2016 attributed to the Cuban political process, however, many more cases were reported for which sufficient information was unavailable and many more cases are expected in prisons but could not be added to the database.
Two prisoners died who were deprived of their freedom for “pre-criminal dangerousness,” an aberration in Cuba’s Penal Code that criminalizes the propensity to commit an offense against the social order, as subjectively determined by state authorities. Both succumbed to reported health ailments without timely or adequate medical care.

44 year-old Alexis Vázquez García, died November 21, 2016 at the Combinado del Sur prison of Matanzas of what prison authorities reported was a massive heart attack.  The family insisted on inspecting the body and filming it. Because it had considerable bruises to the arms, back, and legs (see here), they claim he was assassinated. The film also shows the body was autopsied. Autopsies are performed customarily in Cuba, with organ removal. Cuba Archive has reported on allegations of organ trafficking and of several reported cases of suspicious deaths and improper handling of bodies. See here.

Michel Perez Santoya died September 23, 2016 at a hospital in Ciego de Avila.  He was imprisoned for unemployment. A month earlier, prison guards had beat him so severely that he had to be transferred to a hospital and kept in intensive care for many days. Upon returning to prison, a process was initiated to increase his sentence five more years. In protest, he injected his legs with excrement, urine, and sugary water. His family was not allowed to see him, he was not given any medical attention, and was transferred to a hospital only when he was near death.

In November 2016, Cuba Archive highlighted the death ­­of two dissidents. Independent journalist and former political prisoner, Jorge Alberto Liriado Linares, age 67, died November 14, 2016 in Camaguey from medical neglect and political persecution that deliberately aggravated a heart condition. Human rights activist Arcelio, “Chely,” Molina Leyva, age 53, died November 15, 2016 in Havana, impaled on a pointed fence after allegedly falling from the roof of his house during the early morning hours.

49 Cuban migrants attempting to reach the United States died or disappeared in perilous journeys by sea or through South and Central America. Cuba Archive could only document 14 whose names were known. Nine rafters died in March, fifteen in July, and twenty in September (only 5 bodies were recovered near the Florida Keys in an extensive search by the U.S. Coast Guard). Rolando Mojena, age 20, was among the victims.

Dunieski Lastre Sedeño, age 25, and Edelvis Martínez Aguilar, were murdered while crossing through the Colombian jungle attempting to reach the U.S. With another Cuban, they had paid Colombian coyotes US$1,500 to guide them to the Panamanian border. Upon reaching a swamp, the coyotes demanded more money, which  the migrants didn’t have, so they raped, stabbed, and sliced Edelvis’ neck. They also stabbed both men, killing Dunieski, but one survived and provided testimony that led to the arrest of the perpetrators by Colombian authorities.

Carmen Navarro Olazabal, age 49, died August 20, 2016 as she attempted to reach the United States by crossing South and Central America. She developed a pulmonary edema and kidney failure as a result of foot blisters, a severe fall, asthma, and exhaustion during a 13-day crossing of the jungle between Colombia and Panama. A pianist and chemist, she was part of a group of Cubans that left Colombia after being threatened for deportation.
Rubén Ramírez Caso, age 53, died in Panama of the flu caused by the AH1N1 virus while attempting to cross Central America to reach the United States.

Four doctors died while serving as part of an “internationalist mission”–Drs. Barbara Cruz Ruiz, age 45, Leonardo Ortiz Estrada, age 53, and Erick Omar Pérez, age 41, perished April 17, 2016 in Ecuador in a powerful earthquake. Two months later, Dr. Yanelis Fernández, age 28, who had been severely injured in the earthquake, died at a Quito hospital from heart failure. Cuban health professionals on these assignments serve under bilateral agreements of the Cuban government in conditions akin to modern slavery. Revenues generated by these export services constitute the main source of revenues for Cuba, officially reported at over $8 billion annually.  

Another Cuban “internationalist” Freddy Bartolo Nápoles, a 54 year-old physical therapist, was murdered October 10, 2016 by two criminals in Venezuela reportedly then killed by police.
In 2016, independent labor activists reported the death of two workers, name unknown, who were electrocuted in Havana. They had not been provided protective gear; workplace accidents are common and the victims have no recourse.

Documented deaths and disappearances attributed to the Raúl Castro regime: 7/31/2006 and until 12/31/2016

Since Raúl Castro assumed supreme command of Cuba on July 31, 2006, Cuba Archive has documented 264 deaths and disappearances attributed to the Cuban state. This number excludes even the documented victims of exit attempts , thought to be in the hundreds, and is, sadly, well below the actual number of victims, reported and presumed. Many individuals are known to be dying in prison –especially many young men—yet there are almost no reports from prison, as access is routinely denied to international monitoring agencies such as the Red Cross, and no systematic efforts are in place in Cuba to attempt collecting this information independently. Here is the breakdown, excluding deaths in exit attempts:

Forced Disappearances: 2
Extrajudicial / Deliberate Killings: 34
Hunger Strike in Prison: 6
Denial of Medical Care / Medical Condition in Prison: 100
Suicide or Alleged Suicide in Prison or Induced: 52
Accidents / Negligence in Prison: 4
Other Causes: 24

See case details at www.CubaArchive.org/database/