The Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), a Spain-based advocacy group, accused the Communist Party of Cuba on Tuesday of engaging in “massive occultation of information” regarding the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
OCDH officials suggested that the true death toll of coronavirus cases in Cuba could be as much as triple the official government number.
Cuba has diagnosed nearly 350,000 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began as of Wednesday and nearly 2,500 deaths. Its rates have spiked dramatically in the past month, however, peaking on Tuesday with 9,323 cases documented in a single day, according to the state propaganda outlet Juventud Rebelde. The government has not published statistics for Wednesday at press time. Human rights experts have repeatedly warned against taking Cuban regime statistics at face value, however, given the regime’s history of falsifying medical data, most notoriously reclassifying infant deaths as “abortions” to proclaim its success in lowering infant mortality rates.
The Castro regime has focused minimal efforts on offering healthcare services to Cuban citizens. Instead, it has invested heavily in developing Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidates – the most advanced of which, “Abdalá,” is allegedly in pediatric clinical trials this week. Havana has also increased the promotion of its slave doctor program, in which it sends thousands of doctors to underdeveloped countries in exchange for lucrative payments from their host countries, most of which the doctors never see.
The Castro regime has blamed the United States for its coronavirus woes, claiming the few economic sanctions remaining on Cuba have impacted the regime’s ability to contain the disease. In reality, The United States allows and encourages sending humanitarian aid to Cuba, but the regime often prevents it from getting to its intended recipients.
“Every day we receive information from our observation network on the island, recounting Dantesque scenes regarding the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] situation,” the executive director of the OCDH, Alejandro González Raga, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The hospitals in some provinces have collapsed, the deaths may be triple the official statistics, and the Cuban healthcare system has simply broken.”
Unnamed doctors speaking to the human rights group testified to a lack of oxygen, syringes, and basic drugs throughout the country. One health worker said his hospital did not have any nurses working for most of the night and only one doctors for an entire coronavirus wing.
“People are getting sick, it doesn’t matter what vaccine they get,” another anonymous health worker told OCDH. “They die, anyway. The only thing certain is that these statistics are not reflected anywhere. It’s part of the government’s policy to try to make appear a tranquility that does not exist.”
Another health worker in eastern Guantánamo simply described the situation as, “we’re dropping like flies here.”
Concerns that the pandemic may be entirely out of control in the country have escalated with the mysterious deaths of at least five Cuban military generals in the past nine days – after the start of nationwide protests that began on July 11. The youngest general to die was 57 years old and the rest are believed to have been in their 70s and 80s – at high risk for complications from a coronavirus infection. The Castro regime has not published a cause of death for any of the deceased at press time.
The Communist Party’s coronavirus policy has consistently failed to take into consideration the safety of the population. In March 2020, when the pandemic had begun spreading in the Western Hemisphere, the Castro regime refused to shut down schools. Confronted by concerned parents, schools ordered parents to send their children to class with their own soap and water. Under communism, soap has become a luxury difficult for many families to afford and not consistently present in schools.
Cuban officials simultaneously began encouraging European tourists to travel to Cuba, attempting to take advantage of the fact that many other vacation destinations had banned foreigners from entering to prevent the spread of the virus. The first person confirmed as a coronavirus patient in Cuba was an Italian tourist.
Rather than investing in public health at home, the Castro regime invested in developing a coronavirus vaccine to compete with American and Chinese products. In June, the regime claimed its Abdalá candidate was more effective than China’s “Coronavac,” considered the least effective vaccine product currently in wide distribution globally. The state propaganda newspaper Granma claimed last week that mass vaccination campaigns with Abdala had begun in parts of Havana despite the product not completing clinical trials for many demographics.
The Communist Party has not publicly clarified how it can afford to develop vaccines against a novel disease while hospitals lack basics like syringes and oxygen. International leftist groups have protested that Cuba needs humanitarian aid and American policies stand in its way, but no American law prevents the shipping of aid to the country.
“Every year we authorize billions of dollars worth of exports to Cuba,” Rodney Hunter, the political coordinator for the United States Mission to the United Nations, said in remarks in June, “including food and other agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices, telecommunications equipment, other goods, and other items to support the Cuban people.”
Hunter described the United States as “a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners.”
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has said little on Cuba’s poor handling of the pandemic. Its regional subsidiary, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), scolded the July 11 protesters publicly for creating potential high-risk infection situations.