Six high-ranking military men died in Cuba within 10 days of the outbreak of mass protests. The Spanish daily ABC reported that the revolutionary armed forces department did not mention the causes of the deaths, and the bodies were immediately cremated.
The 57-year-old Major General Agustin Pena, commander of the Cuban Eastern Army, died as the first of the high-ranking Cuban military (July 17). He was a member of the Central Committee of the Cuba Communist Party and was responsible for controlling the COVID-19 epidemic in the east of the country.
A few days later, four of the reserve’s brigade generals – Marcelo Verdecia Perdomo (former bodyguard of Fidel Castro in Sierra Maestra), Ruben Martinez Puente, Manuel Eduardo Lastres Pacheco and Armando Choy Rodriguez died in succession. Gilberto Antonio Cordero, whose rank was not given, died as the sixth.
The Cuban media reports about the deaths
The official Cuban press informed about the deaths, but did not explain the circumstances of the deaths. The Spanish daily ABC reported that the bodies of the dead were cremated immediately.
The deaths of high-ranking military men and disinformation in this matter raised suspicions of possible power disputes or conflicts among the high command of the Cuban army after the protests.
Mass protests in Cuba
On July 11, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in more than 40 localities, demanding freedom. The Cuban military quelled the protests by arresting and prosecuting hundreds of people, including minors, for provoking street riots. This crime is included in the Cuban Criminal Code and is punishable by imprisonment from 3 months to a year.
In the following days, there were other protests, also put down by the regime. Hundreds of people were arrested and indicted.
Media about “suspicious” deaths
According to the sources of the “ABC” daily, the demonstrations caused discrepancies among many high-ranking military men. Veterans insisted on decisive repression against the population, and junior officers were reluctant to them. “Younger commanders don’t want to shoot people, and the old guard wants a strong hand,” wrote ABC.
“Certainly the death of six generals within 10 days, in the context of social protests, is suspect. The Cuban regime fears the loss of power, intensifies repression, instills terror. He knows that people are tired. He knows that their time is running out” – said the Spanish diary.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Yander Zamora