The Truth and Memory project is a vehicle of ongoing research, archival collection, publication, advocacy, and capacity-building in truth recovery and transitional justice. It is amassing a comprehensive registry of historic and continuing deaths and disappearances of a political nature resulting from the Cuban revolution over the course of two dictatorships (of Batista and of the Castros).

By gathering and telling the stories of the victims, we hope that people and nations will understand the violent and repressive nature of Cuba’s regime, support the people of Cuba in attaining their rightful freedoms, and defend the region and the world from the Cuban dictatorship.

Please read carefully the Terms of Use section of this website.

This independent initiative upholds the intrinsic right of all people to live safely and in freedom, promotes a culture of respect for life and the rule of law, and remembers those who’ve paid the highest price.

The project is premised on the belief that acknowledgement of systemic injustices is vital for the psychological wellbeing of both survivors and society and that constructive remembering shapes a moral ethos that promotes reconciliation and helps avert future atrocities. It hopes to serve as a building block for an eventual transitional justice process.  

Ethical guidelines

Cuba Archive adheres to strict ethical guidelines in collecting and disseminating direct testimony for all its projects, in accordance to its stated educational and human rights’ purposes. Testimonial and other information is collected from individuals who volunteer, free of any pressure, to provide their accounts, photographs and/or other documentation based on their own evaluation of risks and benefits. Private information is kept confidential and requests for anonymity and any other privacy requests are respected. Secondary sources are referenced throughout the work if available on public and open sources.

The electronic database includes events beginning on March 10, 1952 (when Batista suspended democratic constitutional rule in Cuba, giving way to the revolutionary struggle) and incorporates actions taking place inside or outside the island, as well as affecting Cubans and non-Cubans alike.

Not all documented cases result directly from political violence; this is evident in case classifications.

All deaths and disappearances in State custody are documented, with the aggravating circumstance that detention centers and prisons in Cuba cannot be monitored by independent human rights organizations. Aside from evident types of cases, the following are documented:
–suicides and deaths from lack of medical care for political reasons, such as of conscripts in the military draft and human rights activists;
–victims of exit attempts from Cuba which, according to the definition of the International Organization for Migration, could be considered victims of “forced migration” given the dictatorial character and systemic problems leading to mass and dangerous migration;
–Cubans serving in “internationalist” missions, as they are considered victims of human trafficking.

Very few victims have been documented of international interventions and Cuban-sponsored subversion in Africa, Central America and other parts of the world; these could reach hundreds of thousands and cannot be included for practical reasons.

The real cost in lives of the Cuba regime is far higher

Transitions to democracy of other totalitarian states have shown that a more accurate or definitive estimate of deaths and disappearances cannot be made until Cuba attains an open democracy in which state archives can be accessed and sufficient official resources, including forensic and technical experts, are allocated to extensive and safe fieldwork can be carried out.

This work does not purport to present a comprehensive record of disappearances and fatalities. Many more cases are believed to remain unknown and/or unrecorded, particularly in attempts to leave Cuba and in detention centers and prisons during the current regime.

The current Cuban State is also responsible for many more deaths than those emanating from direct or indirect political violence and not documented in this project: among others, from excess mortality due to lack of medicines, lack of hygiene and environmental damage, broken public health, gross or criminal negligence by unaccountable government officials, collapse of dilapidated houses, preventable accidents, high suicide rates due to generalized despair, and lack of mental health services. Cuba’s influence in the world, as in Venezuela, also translates into poverty, repression, and underdevelopment with fatal consequences.

The documentation of deaths and disappearances is constantly updated as part of a very dynamic work in progress.

The term “documented case” is used for cases that have been identified, investigated, and added to the database. Reference numbers are assigned randomly.

To facilitate the use and analysis of the information for educational and research purposes, Cuba Archive interprets complex information and classifies cases by type of victim, cause of death, and others, but these classifications are not necessarily definitive or ideal. Unintentional errors may also occur in data entry.

Cases of death at the hands of State agents or in State custody are classified as “extrajudicial executions,” including some cases reported by the State as “suicides,” from an interpretation of the information available even when credible eyewitnesses cannot be cited. Cases classified as “enforced disappearance” are cases for which the available information indicates that the victim was last seen or known or considered to have been in the custody of the State or of an agent of the State.

The vast majority of disappearances in exit attempts are listed as such, but many more could be reclassified as “enforced disappearance” or “extrajudicial execution” if witnesses or documentation indicate the hand of State agents. This has occurred in a number of well-established historical cases and has been extensively reported anecdotally.

When information on the victim’s occupation or employment is available, the U.S. Department of Labor’s uniform classification is used.

Sources and Conflicts of Evidence

Each documented case cites the sources from which the information is derived and, therefore, can only reflect the accuracy and veracity of those sources.

Sources are often listed in abbreviated form in the database but may be viewed in full detail in the Source Library.

Sources include primary or direct testimonies, as well as bibliographic material contained in books, magazines, reports, news, lists, and others.

When cited sources do not coincide on certain aspect(s), such as names, dates, places, manner of death, and other circumstances, these discrepancies are detailed as “Conflicts of Evidence.” Some information is selected over other information when the data is interpreted, however, these efforts do not necessarily arrive at the correct selection with respect to the discrepant data. More weight is usually assigned to primary sources when choosing how to report details for which there are differences among the sources.

It is presumed that some bibliographic sources are derived from other cited sources and would merely duplicate the information, including errors.