“In our country, there have never been death squads –not a single disappearance, no political assassinations, not one person tortured. (…) Travel around the country, ask the people, find just one shred of proof, someone demonstrate that the revolutionary government has ordered or tolerated any such act, and I will never again assume a public role.” −Fidel Castro, April 5, 2001, Plenary Session of the 105 Conference of the Interparliamentary Union, Havana. (Translated from Spanish.)
Cuba Archive: Truth and Memory
There is profound unawareness of the huge cost in lives of the Cuban revolution. By gathering and telling the story of its victims, we hope that people and nations will understand the violent nature of the Cuban regime and feel compelled to support the people of Cuba in attaining their rightful freedoms. We honor the memory of those who’ve paid the highest price and hope to foster a culture of respect for life and the rule of law. This work is a gift to present and future generations that deserve to live freely and in peace.
Cuba Archive is a vehicle of ongoing research, archival collection, dissemination, and capacity-building on the issue of truth, memory, and justice. This information is gathered and disseminated for educational purposes and to advance human rights.
A comprehensive registry is being amassed of disappearances and fatalities of a political nature resulting from the Cuban revolution. All findings are reported with objectivity, transparency, and impartiality.
Principles guiding this effort
Cuba Archive is an independent initiative upholding the intrinsic right of all people to live safely and in freedom. It is premised on the belief that the benefits of truth recovery outweigh its potential drawbacks and that knowledge and acknowledgement of systemic injustices are vital for the psychological wellbeing of both survivors and society. The benefits of constructive remembering outweigh its potential drawbacks by shaping a moral ethos that fosters respect for life and the rule of law and promotes societal reconciliation, helping avert further atrocities.
The Archive encompasses events beginning on March 10, 1952, when General Fulgencio Batista suspended constitutional democratic rule in Cuba, giving way for the revolutionary struggle. It incorporates actions taking place inside or outside the island and affecting Cubans and non-Cubans alike. Progress depends on available staffing and resources.
All cases are documented, irrespective of political, ideological, and other attributes or affiliations of the victim. Each case is referenced with all the sources from which the information was obtained. Discrepancies in case details are noted as “conflicts of evidence.”
Case numbers in the database are random and not indicative of any classification criteria.
Case records entered into the database provide the basis for ongoing reports on “numbers” of victims and are considered “documented” only for the purposes of this work. However, these only represent the cases for which information has been obtained. Actual deaths resulting from the Cuban Revolution are believed to amply exceed cases documented by this project by many thousands. In particular, executions from 1968 onwards, deaths in prison and at sea in exit attempts are greatly underreported. In addition, the vast cost in lives of the Castro regime’s incursions in Africa and its sponsorship of terrorism and subversion internationally has not been documented.
What Cuba Archive is not
This work hopes to serve as a building block for an eventual transitional justice (Truth-Justice-Reconciliation) process when a free and democratic society under the rule of law can prosper. It is not a “Truth Commission; such bodies are usually official initiatives of democratic governments that follow repressive regimes once they can embark on far-reaching forensic work, gain access to official records, and significantly overcome the danger of reprisal to witnesses. These conditions, regrettably, do not yet exist in Cuba.
Only when all stakeholders can participate freely in an informed and civic public debate will the Cuban be able to responsibly decide how best to effect a transition from the long period of violence and repression they deserve to overcome.
Our co-founders, Armando Lago, Ph.D. (1939-2008) and María (Cuca) Pino de Cañizares (1934-2008) continue to inspire this work.