Aug 20, 2006 3:58 pm US/Eastern
Castro Opponents Seek Proof Of Cuban Executions
(AP) CHATHAM, N.J. A pair of Cuban-American opponents to Fidel Castro’s
rule hope a database they are compiling will provide an accurate record
of how many have been killed by the regime.
Maria Werlau, 46, a former banker living in Chatham, and Armando Lago,
66, a half-paralyzed economist in Coral Gables, Fla., say their
eight-year-old Cuba Archive project has already compiled 9,000 reports
of people killed during Castro’s 47 years running Cuba.
The reports, many of which they say have been confirmed, involve more
than 5,000 killed by firing squad, mostly in the immediate years
following Castro’s 1959 rise to power. Werlau and Lago say roughly 2,000
others died in prison, some executed, some perishing in accidents never
On top of that, there’s an estimated 77,000 people who have died trying
to flee Cuba, according to Castro critics.
Werlau and Lago also hope to include the roughly 3,000 people who died
in the violence before the 1959 revolution, including those killed by
the forces of dictator Fulgencio Batista.
“There’s no political message in this,” Lago, who has done much of the
Cuba Archive research while recovering from a pair of strokes, told The
Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark.
“I’m simply counting the dead,” he said.
A Cuban government official told The Associated Press on Sunday that he
had not seen The Star-Ledger’s report on the archive project, but
defended “the ethics” of the revolution ever since Castro came to power.
The official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to
discuss the report, also pointed out he believes it’s the United States
that has the largest number of people condemned to death sentences, and
questioned whether there would be an article on that as well.
Both Werlau and Lago describe injuries they suffered themselves from
Under File No. 1267 in the Cuba Archive is Werlau’s father, Armando
Canizares, killed during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Werlau’s
mother, and many of her mother’s friends in the Miami neighborhood where
she grew up, were widows of the failed U.S.-backed attempt to overthrow
“I guess I inhaled this through every cell in my body, this whole
drama,” Werlau said.
Lago fled Cuba in 1960 when he was 20 years old. He says Cuban police
had arrested and questioned him because he argued in a college class
that the government’s deficit spending would cause inflation.
Werlau says she came up with the idea for the archive project while
studying in Chile in the early 1990s. She noticed that there was an
investigation into the political executions during the political
dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and wondered why the same wasn’t being
done for Cuba.
While searching for details into her father’s death, she ran into Lago,
who was already researching old U.S. State Department records and news
clippings to assemble a tally of the dead.
On its Web site, the Cuba Archive posts a quotation cited to Castro in
which he says there has never been a single political assassination or
single victim of torture, a statement Werlau describes as “lies.”
“I think he said that because of our work, because he knows we
are doing this,” Werlau said.