Each month we feature on Cuba Archive’s Facebook page around eight short case profiles of victims of the Castro regime on the anniversary of their death or disappearance. Generally, cases with photos are selected that represent a cross-section of causes and dates. We hope that these personal stories can convey some sense of the losses involved as well as of the scope and magnitude of the cost in lives of 60 years of Communist “revolution” in Cuba.
All documented cases on our database, over 10,7000, have their own individual record. This electronic registry of victims is an ongoing collection of information intent on constructing historical memory, combatting impunity, and planting seeds for a better future.
Please help us spread the word and let the world know what has happened and continues to happen in Cuba. If you are a witness or know survivors, family members, or anyone who knew a victim, we need the input to perfect this work even if a record already exists. We know that, regrettably, we have much more data to gather on documented cases and many more victims to document. We also welcome your feedback; please tell us what you would like to see more of or less of and suggest ways to improve. Respond to this mailing or write to us at info@CubaArchive.org.
Do visit database.CubaArchive.org and look up the details we have on the cases profiled below or any others. You can do a Simple Search by name or do an Advanced Search by different criteria (dates, places, cause, victim type, attribution, etc.) to see all the cases that meet that criteria.
Below are selected profiles for the month of April. May they rest in peace, may there be justice, and may better days arrive for the Cuban people.
April 3, 1963. The Gonzalo García-Rubio brothers Filiberto, age 26, and Dionisio, age 22, were killed in combat in Las Villas province. Filiberto led “the Asturianitos” guerrilla band, to which three of his brothers also belonged; the family of small farmers had joined the armed uprising against the Communist regime. Their father, José Gonzalo Teja, was assassinated by Castro militias a month earlier at their home in front of his wife, their property had been confiscated, and all family members had been evacuated from the area. The brothers, whose bodies were never returned to the family for burial, had Cuban and Spanish dual citizenship as their father was from Asturias, Spain. (Photos from left to right: Filiberto, Dionisio, and their father José).
April 7, 2008. The well-known Cuban musician (rapper) Elvis Manuel Martínez Nodarse, age 18, disappeared and presumably drowned with nine other persons while trying to escape Cuba. The 25-foot boat they were traveling in capsized off the coast of Cuba. The group was to meet up in high seas with a motorboat run by smugglers charging $10,000 per person that would take them to the United States. Elvis' mother and eleven other persons were rescued by U.S. Coast Guard and repatriated to Cuba.
April 11, 2003 - Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo, age 33, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla García, age 22 and Jorge Luis Martínez Isaac, age 40, were executed by firing squad in Havana. They were convicted for "terrorist acts" after hijacking the Baraguá ferry in Havana Bay to escape to the U.S. Chased by two Cuban Border Guard patrol boats, the hijackers were persuaded to return after running out of fuel. Having agreed to have the ferry towed back to Cuba's Mariel port for refueling, they were captured. After a prompt and quick trial, they were sentenced to death. The sentence had not been ratified when they were executed without warning. The families were notified at 5AM to go immediately to the cemetery for the burial. Eight others accused as accomplices received varying prison sentences, three for life, and one for 30 years. (Photos from left: Lorenzo, Bárbaro, and Jorge.)
April 18, 1961. Virgilio Campanería Angel, age 23; Alberto Tapia Ruano, age 23, Carlos Antonio Rodríguez Cabo, age 36, José Calderín, Carlos Manuel Calvo Martínez, age 21, Lázaro Reyes Benítez, Efrén Rodríguez López, and Filiberto Rodríguez Ravelo, were executed by firing squad at La Cabaña Fortress Prison, Havana. Their death sentence had been delivered after a 20-minute summary trial held hastily the day after the Bay of Pigs invasion began. The eight men awaited their execution together in a special cell and prayed the rosary for hours before being taken one by one for their execution. Other prisoners could hear the firing squad and coup de grace shots. (Photos from left: Virgilio, Alberto, and Carlos.)
April 20, 1979. Francisco Miguel Fernández Galván, age 22, was executed by firing squad at the Atarés Castle prison, Havana province, for expressing his opposition to Communist ideology while serving the compulsory military service. A trial was not held. Three days after the execution, his body was flown home to Las Tunas, Oriente province, in a military plane with soldiers guarding the casket. The family held a wake at their house and had him buried at the local cemetery. When the family went to see the prosecutor, he offered them money for their silence, which they refused. In the 1960s, his father had served a five-year sentence as a political prisoner.
April 25, 2007. Norbert Jorrín Ortega, age 20, a prisoner at Combinado del Este prison of Havana, died from severe respiratory and cardiovascular problems without receiving medical attention. Three days earlier, he had been taken to the hospital with a severe asthma crisis, general edema, and possible pulmonary embolism. The treating doctor, Dr. Pedro de Armas, sent him back to the prison a few hours later, stating that he was faking a worse condition than he actually had. Two days later, Jorrín was transferred to the hospital in a coma, dying a few hours later.
April 30, 2006. Lázaro Noel Agramonte died of an alleged suicide, possible extrajudicial killing, at the Combinado del Este prison of Havana. He was serving prison for a crime his family reports he had not committed. He had been with friends who, seeking to soothe their hunger, had tried to take a bag with bread and cheese from an old man on the street. At the sight of a police car, they fled without taking the man’s bread. Even though Lázaro had not taken part in the attempted theft, he was arrested. For refusing to inform on his friends' names, he was sentenced to five years in prison and sent to a minors' rehabilitation center. There, he rebelled against the injustice of his detention and was kept in a solitary punishment cell. Subsequently, he was transferred to a stricter prison. His family was informed that he had been found dead in his cell, allegedly after hanging himself. The family suspects he was murdered, as his coffin was sealed and they were not able to inspect the body for rope marks to the neck.
Don't miss the recently published “The power of ideas: Cuba’s efforts to shape debate in Latin America,” co-authored by Cuba Archive's executive director, Maria Werlau, with Armando Chaguaceda, published in Power 3.0, International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy, April 25, 2019.
Please note that an important U.S. news outlet is looking for testimonies of psychiatric torture in Cuba. Please contact us at info@CubaArchive.org if you have any information on this or know someone who does.