News and Facts about Cuba



Today, even the world’s largest democracies have embraced the idea that
unconditional “engagement” with Cuba’s “reformist” military dictatorship
will bring about economic and political reform. As a result, they have
afforded it widespread impunity, legitimacy, and support. Yet, Raúl has
been supreme leader of Cuba for over a decade and Cuba’s “capitalist”
re-insertion into world markets after the end of Soviet Communism began
over a quarter century ago. The evidence to date shows no significant
empowerment of Cuba’s citizens with economic, civil or political rights
during Raúl Castro´s tenure as president. Instead, repression and
against ’ defenders and members of Cuba’s
peaceful opposition movement and independent civil society has greatly
intensified both in scope and viciousness. Internationally, Cuba’s
alliances have strengthened with totalitarian/autocratic and rogue regimes.


Nothing in Raúl Castro’s history denotes a disposition to reform;
rather, he has been directly responsible for unspeakable and systematic
crimes against humanity over the course of the 57 year-old dictatorship
—first as second-in-command and head of the Armed Forces until July 2006
and, subsequently, as “maximum” leader for the last ten years.

Raúl Castro’s killing career began early on. During the revolutionary
struggle in the mountains, he ordered the execution of deserters and
alleged informants. When the revolution took power January 1st 1959,
with brother Fidel and Ché Guevara, he masterminded the wave of terror
designed to reduce the population into submission. In charge of Oriente
province, Raúl had hundreds of men executed simply for wearing the
uniform of the or Constitutional Armed Forces. In Santiago de
Cuba, he ordered 71 men shot by firing squad without trial. Among the
victims was U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican heritage, Benito Cortés
Maldonado, a policeman put to death on fabricated charges of raping a

Video testimony of priest Jorge Bez Chabebe on the mass execution
ordered by Raúl Castro in Santiago de Cuba on January 12
1959. (9:03 mins.)

During the anti-Communist rural uprising of the sixties in Cuba, Raúl’s
Armed Forces executed prisoners on the spot. In Angola, he reportedly
ordered attacks on civilian populations, including with chemical
weapons. On February 24, 1996, MIGs of his Air Force shot down in
international airspace two unarmed U.S.-based civilian airplanes
belonging to a humanitarian group. Four men were murdered, three were
U.S. citizens: Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, Carlos Costa and
Pablo Morales.

Raúl’s crimes against defenseless people, including children, have no
precedent even among the bloodiest Latin American dictatorships. For
decades, Cubans have been systematically murdered by Cuba’s Border Guard
for attempting to flee the island by sea and through embassies or the
U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo. Cuba’s official media showed Raúl
awarding medals to Border Guard sharpshooters who killed Iskander
Maleras and Luis Angel Valverde, as they attempted to swim to the U.S.
base on January 19, 1994.

Raul Castro’s Victims: Death and Disappearances from July 2006 to Date
Since Raúl Castro assumed command of Cuba in 2006, Cuba Archive has
reports of 213 cases of death or disappearance of a political nature.
The actual number of victims is likely many times higher, as reporting
from Cuba is extremely restricted. (See “The Human Toll of Raúl Castro´s
Rule: Partial Record of Deaths and Disappearances Attributed to the
Cuban State July 31, 2006 – December 31, 2015” at
-see Reports).

Notably, in the last ten years of Raúl Castro’s tenure as head dictator,
twelve human rights’ defenders have been killed or disappeared at the
hands of authorities, some quite evidently, others in circumstances that
suggest an extrajudicial killing by state agents. Some have been
threatened with death, a few have been victims of suspicious
“accidents.” (Cuba Archive has received additional testimony since
publishing a report in 2012 on “strange accidents and unexplained
deaths.” Because all medical facilities in Cuba are state-owned and
controlled, a strong State Security presence typically accompanies any
treatment for human rights’ defenders and many fear seeking medical

Prominent human rights’ activists and opposition leaders
63 year-old, Laura Pollán, leader of the internationally renowned human
rights’ group, Ladies in White, died October 14, 2010 at a Havana
. She developed a sudden and undiagnosed illness after being
pricked with a needle by pro-government thugs. A killing by poisoning or
biological agent is suspected. Human rights’ activist and former
political Juan Wilfredo Soto, age 46, died May 8, 2011 at a
Santa Clara hospital following a brutal beating by four uniformed
policemen. The blows severely damaged his pancreas and caused lesions to
his kidneys. 60 year-old opposition leader Oswaldo Payá, recipient of
the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, was killed July 22, 2012
with Harold Cepero, a 32-year old activist from his movement, in a car
reportedly provoked by State Security agents and suggestive of
a state murder.

Lesser-known human rights’ defenders

Just a few months after Raúl assumed the lead role in Cuba, Former
prisoner of conscience Miguel Valdés Tamayo, age 50, died January 10,
2007 at a state hospital, his death widely reported to have been
induced. Luis Angel Lima Machado, age 47, was found dead by
hanging at his house in Havana on October 23, 2007. He suffered from
emotional problems fueled by constant harassment from Cuban authorities.
There is no evidence that his death was not self-inflicted. That same
year, activist Liborio Borroto Monroe, age 65, was killed November 19,
2007 after a horse-drawn cart ran him over at his hometown, Jatibonico,
Sancti Spiritus. Earlier that day three Communist Party members had
visited his home to threaten him with death for placing stickers with
the word “change” on the walls of his house.

Human rights’ activist Roberto Franco Alfaro disappeared May 20, 2009 in
Havana, coincidentally on the anniversary of Cuba´s independence and
namesake of his opposition group. State Security had threatened him with
his disappearance. Human rights’ activist, Alberto Sigas Hernández, age
32, also disappeared January 5, 2010 after police reported he was being
held at Villa Marista, State Security Headquarters in Havana. State
Security had harassed him repeatedly and threatened him with his

See video testimony on Alberto Sigas’ disappearance (4:10 mins.) in
Spanish at

Daysi Talavera Ortíz, a female human rights’ activist and former
political prisoner, died January 2011 in Matanzas after being run over
by a car in mysterious circumstances. Blind human rights’ activist
Sergio Díaz Larrastegui, age 54, died April 19, 2012 at a Havana
hospital. Fellow activists believe he was assassinated, as he had been
repeatedly threatened by the political police. He suddenly became very
ill and died after being diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease and
hepatic cirrhosis doctors attributed to unidentified chemicals. In May
2014, Vicente Medrano Ramos, age 58, was found at home in Guantánamo
with his throat slit. He was a sympathizer of the peaceful opposition
group UNPACU, which had repaired the roof of his home, damaged from
Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Authorities had threatened him with death for
expressing his gratitude publicly all around town.

Continued killing of civilians attempting to flee Cuba
At Guantánamo, things haven´t changed at all —to this day, the U.S.
base is surrounded by an active mine field and Cuban guards with orders
to shoot. Plus, Cuban authorities continue enforcing a longstanding
practice to prevent exit attempts, considered without government
approval. Many caught leaving are detained, some are killed, albeit more
sporadically than in the past.

Recent victims include 18 persons who left Cuba on a small boat from
Isla de la Juventud at dawn on February 1, 2011. 24 days later, Cuban
border guards said they had detected the vessel near the coast of Pinar
del Río with just one body riddled with bullets, that of Wilfredo Peña
Leyva. Among those “disappeared” was 42 year-old Ariel García Fernández.

Cuban-born Italian resident, 32 year-old Diosbel Díaz Beoto, was killed
December 16, 2014 after the boat in which he left Cuba from the coast of
Matanzas (with 7 women, 2 children and 23 men) was shot at for two hours
by Cuban Border Guard and rammed until it sunk.

Yurinieski Martínez Reina, age 30, was killed April 19, 2015 at a beach
in Matanzas by a State Security agent who fired on his group of five
unarmed men after they had been detained for attempting to leave on a
homemade raft. A military tribunal sentenced the perpetrator to 13 years
in for involuntary homicide, but it is unknown if he is actually
serving prison.

See HERE Cuban Border Guards aggressive treatment of a group of ,
September 2016.

See a more detailed report on the above in our reports.

Source: Raul Castro, Reformer or Unreformable? The Evidence to Date. –

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