The Issue of Genocide and Cuba.

Archive search on "genocide"

The Castro regime is condemned world-wide as undemocratic. Most people are aware of that.

Not as many seem to know that Genocide Watch (the Coordinator for the International Campaign to End Genocide, founded in the Hague, Netherlands, May 1999 - ) has put the Castro regime on it's list of governments guilty of genocide.














STAGE in 2005



1945 -- 1959

1959 – present

100’s rebels

1,000's “counter – revolutionaries”

Rightist gov’ts

Castro gov’t


4 – Organization


Genocide Watch holds the Castro regime responsible for the death of thousands of people (executed and died trying to flee the regime). The deaths are to be considered as deaths as the result of genocide as defined by international treaties.

The estimates of Cubans killed range from 35,000 to 141,000 (1959-1987) according to the site of R. J. Rummel. More estimates of death tolls are listed below.

Cuba is also classified as being in the 4th stage of genocide: "Organization" by Genocide Watch.

In Europe steps have been taken to indict Fidel Castro on genocide charges in various countries:

  1. Belgium
  2. Spain

Prosecutions have not resulted in indictments as for now. Castro's status as "head of state" protects him from prosecution at this point in time.

The data published by Genocide Watch has been confirmed by other sources and can therefore be considered accurate.

Genocide 8 Stages Sources


What is Genocide under the treaty?

 The crime of genocide is defined in international law in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

 "Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:

(a)     Genocide;

(b)    Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c)     Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d)    Attempt to commit genocide;

(e)     Complicity in genocide.

 The Genocide Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948. The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951. More than 130 nations have ratified the Genocide Convention and over 70 nations have made provisions for the punishment of genocide in domestic criminal law. The text of Article II of the Genocide Convention was included as a crime in Article 6 of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Punishable Acts

The following are genocidal acts when committed as part of a policy to destroy a group’s existence:

Killing members of the group includes direct killing and actions causing death.

Causing serious bodily or mental harm includes inflicting trauma on members of the group through widespread torture, rape, sexual violence, forced or coerced use of drugs, and mutilation.

Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to destroy a group includes the deliberate deprivation of resources needed for the group’s physical survival, such as clean water, food, clothing, shelter or medical services. Deprivation of the means to sustain life can be imposed through confiscation of harvests, blockade of foodstuffs, detention in camps, forcible relocation or expulsion into deserts. 

Prevention of births includes involuntary sterilization, forced abortion, prohibition of marriage, and long-term separation of men and women intended to prevent procreation.

Forcible transfer of children may be imposed by direct force or by through fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or other methods of coercion.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as persons under the age of 14 years.

Genocidal acts need not kill or cause the death of members of a group.  Causing serious bodily or mental harm, prevention of births and transfer of children are acts of genocide when committed as part of a policy to destroy a group’s existence:

It is a crime to plan or incite genocide, even before killing starts, and to aid or abet genocide: Criminal acts include conspiracy, direct and public incitement, attempts to commit genocide, and complicity in genocide.

Key Terms

The crime of genocide has two elements: intent and action.  “Intentional” means purposeful.   Intent can be proven directly from statements or orders.  But more often, it must be inferred from a systematic pattern of coordinated acts.

Intent is different from motive.  Whatever may be the motive for the crime (land expropriation, national security, territorial integrity, etc.,) if the perpetrators commit acts intended to destroy a group, even part of a group, it is genocide.

The phrase "in whole or in part" is important. Perpetrators need not intend to destroy the entire group.  Destruction of only part of a group (such as its educated members, or members living in one region) is also genocide.  Most authorities require intent to destroy a substantial number of group members – mass murder.  But an individual criminal may be guilty of genocide even if he kills only one person, so long as he knew he was participating in a larger plan to destroy the group.

The law protects four groups - national, ethnical, racial or religious groups.

A national group means a set of individuals whose identity is defined by a common country of nationality or national origin.

An ethnical group is a set of individuals whose identity is defined by common cultural traditions, language or heritage.

A racial group means a set of individuals whose identity is defined by physical characteristics.

A religious group is a set of individuals whose identity is defined by common religious creeds, beliefs, doctrines, practices, or rituals.



Eight Stages of Genocide.

By Gregory H. Stanton (Originally written in 1996 at the Department of State; presented at the Yale University Center for International and Area Studies in 1998)

Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The later stages must be preceded by the earlier stages, though earlier stages continue to operate throughout the process.

The eight stages of genocide are:

1. Classification

        2. Symbolization

                3. Dehumanization

                        4. Organization

                               5.  Polarization

                                        6. Preparation

                                                7. Extermination

                                                        8. Denial


All cultures have categories to distinguish people into "us and them" by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide.

The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania or Cote d'Ivoire has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide.


We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people "Jews" or "Gypsies", or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply them to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia.

To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the 1980's, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, when many non-Jews chose to wear the yellow star, depriving it of its significance as a Nazi symbol for Jews. According to legend in Denmark, the Nazis did not introduce the yellow star because they knew even the King would wear it.


One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder.

At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. In combating this dehumanization, incitement to genocide should not be confused with protected speech. Genocidal societies lack constitutional protection for countervailing speech, and should be treated differently than in democracies. Hate radio stations should be shut down, and hate propaganda banned. Hate crimes and atrocities should be promptly punished.


Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, though sometimes informally (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or by terrorist groups. Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings.

To combat this stage, membership in these militias should be outlawed. Their leaders should be denied visas for foreign travel. The U.N. should impose arms embargoes on governments and citizens of countries involved in genocidal massacres, and create commissions to investigate violations, as was done in post-genocide Rwanda.


Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center.

Prevention may mean security protection for moderate leaders or assistance to human rights groups. Assets of extremists may be seized, and visas for international travel denied to them. Coups d'etat by extremists should be opposed by international sanctions.


Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. They are often segregated into ghettoes, forced into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved.

At this stage, a Genocide Alert must be called. If the political will of the U.S., NATO, and the U.N. Security Council can be mobilized, armed international intervention should be prepared, or heavy assistance to the victim group in preparing for its self-defense. Otherwise, at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the U.N. and private relief groups for the inevitable tide of refugees.


Extermination begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called "genocide." It is "extermination" to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi).

At this stage, only rapid and overwhelming armed intervention can stop genocide. Real safe areas or refugee escape corridors should be established with heavily armed international protection. The U.N. needs a Standing High Readiness Brigade or a permanent rapid reaction force, to intervene quickly when the U.N. Security Council calls it. For larger interventions, a multilateral force authorized by the U.N., led by NATO or a regional military power, should intervene. If the U.N. will not intervene directly, militarily powerful nations should provide the airlift, equipment, and financial means necessary for regional states to intervene with U.N. authorization. It is time to recognize that the law of humanitarian intervention transcends the interests of nation-states.


Denial is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile. There they remain with impunity, like Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them.

The best response to denial is punishment by an international tribunal or national courts. There the evidence can be heard, and the perpetrators punished. Tribunals like the Yugoslav, Rwanda, or Sierra Leone Tribunals, an international tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and ultimately the International Criminal Court must be created. They may not deter the worst genocidal killers. But with the political will to arrest and prosecute them, some mass murderers may be brought to justice.

© 1998 Gregory H. Stanton



Other Sources:

Raul Castro at the shooting of a condemned prisoner

Raul Castro at the execution of a prisoner.

  1. The "Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba"

    February 19, 2008 Update on Findings

This work documents loss of life and disappearances of a political or military nature attributed to the Cuban Revolution. Each documented case is available for review at and substantiated by bibliographic/historic data and reports from direct sources. Due to the ongoing nature of the work and the difficulty of obtaining and verifying data from Cuba, the following totals change as research progresses and are considered far from exhaustive. Cuba Archive is currently examining additional cases –most are expected to be added to this table. Experience has shown that as additional outreach efforts are undertaken, many more cases are likely to be uncovered.

Non-Combat Victims of the Castro Regime:

January 1, 1959 to December 31, 2007



Documented Cases


Firing squad executions


Extrajudicial killings not in prison


Missing and disappeared


Other, including deaths in prison(1)






"Balseros" (estimate to 2003) (2)





(1) Deaths in prison include assassinations, suicides, and deaths resulting from medical negligence or from accidents or alleged natural causes probably precipitated by prison conditions.
(2) The estimated number of victims was derived in 2003 by Dr. Armando Lago from data in studies by the Oceanographic Institute of the University of Miami and the University of Havana and reports by the U.S. Coast Guard. The actual number of rafters who have perished at sea is very difficult to corroborate. Deaths from 2003 to the present have not been estimated.

Combat Deaths
At least 16,282 additional deaths in combat or missing in action can be directly attributed to the Cuban Revolution, of which Cuba Archive has documented 1,392. 1,289 combat deaths are documented from anti-Castro military operations (Bay of Pigs expedition, the internal insurgency, and infiltration missions). Losses by the Castro government in military operations are estimated at 14,953 at the Bay of Pigs, fighting the insurgents in the rural war inside Cuba, and killed in the military intervention in Angola. In addition, 40 persons were killed in the accidental explosion of a civilian aviation plane (Cubana de Aviación) in Nicaragua used by the Cuban government to transport arms to the Sandinistas).

Other Deaths
Thousands of foreign nationals, both military and civilians, have been killed in Africa and Latin America in Cuba’s internationalist wars and its support of subversion. These are estimated in the hundreds of thousands.


Also see: Los Muertos de Castro


  1. "The revolution's toll"

    A project to list each person killed for and against the Cuban revolution by name and date is underway, but it struggles to garner the funding it needs to complete its mission.

    At 31,173, the tally of documented cases keeps growing, and includes:

    • 5,728 killed by Castro firing squads

    • 1,207 extrajudicial killings after Castro took power

    • 1,216 deaths in prison.


  2. In the book-in-progress The Human Costs of Social Revolutions:  The Black Book on Cuba by Dr. Armando Lago that will be published in 1999, he is making an attempt to list Castro’s deaths since 1959.  With Castro in power, obtaining information is very difficult, but so far the deaths of 97,000 persons have been named, each confirmed by at least two sources.  Some 30,000 executed by firing squad, 2,000 extra-judicial assassinations, 5,000 deaths in prison due to beating by guards and denial of medical care and 60,000 deaths while trying to escape Cuba by sea.


  3. R.J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Hawaii, list the "median" number of 73,000 as victims of  the "democide" of the Castro regime on his site.

"The greatest source of post-war democide was communism (see the communist death toll). During and after the war communists seized power, or came to power with the help of Soviet military might, as in Eastern Europe. In addition to the USSR, Mongolia, Eastern European regimes, East Germany, and
Czechoslovakia, communist regimes eventually also included China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Grenada, Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and South Yemen, or 26 regimes in all. These communist governments and the communist guerrillas they supported in
other countries account for about 66,000,000 of the 76,000,000 murdered since the war, or about 87 percent. Clearly, of all regimes, communist ones have been by far the greatest killer. During these years it has been mostly death by Marxism than more generally by government."

 Little has been written in English on the democide in other totalitarian states. Attempts to determine the how, when, and why of democide in, say, communist North Korea, Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia, Laos, or Eastern Europe, or Fascist Italy, fundamentalist Moslem Iran, and elsewhere is a matter of
digging out of conventional histories and political studies bits and pieces or digging into relevant newspaper and news magazine articles and specialized pieces.


       The data he provides lists a range from 35,000 to 141,000 people killed (1959-1987)



  1. But today, Armando Lago, a Ph. D. in Economics from Harvard University, continues working on his book "CUBA: The Human Cost of Social Revolutions. The Black Book of Cuban Communism," documenting the deaths caused by Castro's regime from 1959 to the present. According to Dr. Lago's ongoing research, the total currently ranges between 90,827 and 102,722 deaths (much higher than the 3,000 attributed to Chile's Augusto Pinochet).


  1. This well documented web sites post various sources (including the Cuban government) with estimates ranging from 2,000 to 119,000 deaths. The website is ironically called "minor atrocities of the 20th century". The site refers to recognized authors like: Mario Lazo ( Dagger in the Heart : American Policy Failures in Cuba 1968) and Thomas Skidmore.



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