Cuba Archive Proposes to Dissolve the Government and Organize a Democratic Transition

Until elections are held, Cuba Archive recommends provisionally maintaining the State’s administrative structure. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 August 2022 — Cuba Archive, an organization incorporated in Washington, D.C., started a petition on Thursday, Cuba libre: Compromiso de transición a la democracia [Free Cuba: Commitment to a democratic transition], on, and invites “all Cubans and Cuban organizations,” on the Island and abroad, to join a national “civic commitment” with a view toward a democratic transition.

The petition, which already has more than 100 signatures, presents a “peaceful change toward an organized state under the principle of democracy”, which would propose a solution to the crisis which currently affects all levels of life in Cuba.

With four main targets, Cuba Archive’s petition proposes to residents of the Island a process of “resistance, civil disobedience and non-cooperation” with repressive state institutions, as well as a “national debate” characterized by a variety of opinions.

It also challenges the regime to “dismantle repressive organizations and to make a peaceful transition viable” and for public officials to preserve state archives, which will be indispensable for the Island’s democratic future. Lastly, it demands that the international community not “extend credit or material assistance” to the government, except for humanitarian assistance provided through independent organizations.

In addition, Cuba Archive calls on “Cubans of good faith,” including civic and religious leaders, public figures, intellectuals and artists.

According to the organization, Cubans should look to the Constitution of 1940 as a reference to restructure the Cuban legal sphere, so long as the articles considered “exclusionary or impractical for the times” are removed.

A set of 19 recommendations round out the petition. Together, these provide the backbone for a well-defined program for a democratic transition on the Island. The proposals include naming a provisional government “of limited duration,” the members of which will not be eligible to hold office during the first free elections. continue reading

Special powers will be conferred upon the provisional government to restore fundamental citizen rights, repair the administration of the country, and plan for general elections within 24 months. Furthermore, it will be responsible for drafting a new Constitution for the Republic.

Another one of the recommendations is the prohibition of the death penalty, violence and vandalism against public property and public goods.

With regard to the Communist Party, the petition does not specify if it will be outlawed or not, but clarifies that the abolition of its influence and control over the state is indispensable for the transition toward democracy. The political police and all repressive organizations, which take direction from it, will also be dissolved.

Cuba Archive proposes the dissolution of the current government apparatus, declaring its members unfit and replacing all government officials. However, until elections are held, it recommends provisionally maintaining the state’s administrative structure.

It emphasizes that members of the military and government employees who have not committed “crimes against humanity such as torture, murder, forced disappearance and prevarication” may form part of the new arrangement, so long as their innocence has been validated through judicial mechanisms.

The legalization of organizations and political parties prohibited by Castroism, as well as the release of prisoners of conscience will be indispensable measures for guaranteeing a democratic future on the Island; so too will the repeal of laws that go against human rights, especially the rights to “self-determination, conscience, expression, press, information, association, assembly, movement, organization, privacy and religion.”

With this goal, it aims to prioritize “the dismantling of state monopolies over the press, education and communications”. The organization also describes possible lines to follow for agricultural, economic and trade development.

In the international scope, one significant recommendation is to suspend the refuge which the current government provides to “foreigners with ties to terrorism, drug trafficking and other activities which run counter to the good of the nation.”

This measure is in line with new legislation on the extradition of American fugitives on the Island, introduced on August 3rd in the U.S. Congress by Senators Bob Menédez and Marco Rubio.

Cuba Archive, also known as the Free Society Project or Archivo Cuba in Spanish, describes itself as a non-profit organization founded in 2001 to promote human rights on the Island through research and information. Its advisory board includes Cuban intellectuals such as Pedro Corzo, Enrique Encinosa, José Conrado and Carlos Alberto Montaner.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Cuba: A Warning to Latin America

Police officers arrest protesters in front of the Cuban Capitol in Havana on June 11. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, María Werlau/Archivo Cuba [Cuba Archive], Miami, 28 July 2021 — Although the repressive apparatus has controlled the streets of Cuba for now, the regime faces its bankruptcy both economically and legitimately. Among the consequences that deserve attention are the regional implications. Presumably, the Cuban regime, cornered, will increase the subversion of the democracies of the region to distract international attention, keep governments occupied in the defense of their own democracies, and blackmail them with the threat of more violence, as well as to attract resources with the expansion of “XXI century socialism” (Castro-communism).

Since its inception in 1959, the Cuban regime has financed, trained, and coordinated countless individuals, groups, organizations, and political parties to subvert the democratic order throughout the Western Hemisphere, and advance its imperialist plans. Their tactics have always included a set of asymmetric methodologies, such as guerrilla warfare, the formation of cadres for urban mobilization, and clandestine penetration. As of 2019, the coordinated violence unleashed in the region has neutralized collective action against the Venezuelan regime and promoted the expansion of the Cuban-Chavista model.

Our book, Cuba’s Intervention in Venezuela: A Strategic Occupation with Global Implications, (2019) describes the above and details how Cuba works.

Thousands of agents of the Cuban dictatorship promote its agenda around the world.

The Cuban libretto appears intact over and over again, in the press and on the lips of influential personalities. Recently, it tries to neutralize the damage done by the recent protests by blaming external forces for the lack of freedom and well-being in Cuba. Many people of goodwill adopt this story inadvertently, often lacking information or knowledge. But many are prepared agents, with precise continue reading

The statement that the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry released on July 16 seems to have been written by the Cuban regime, although President Lasso soon corrected his government’s position, to support Cubans who are asking for freedom. According to former Cuban intelligence officer Enrique García, at the time of his desertion in January 1989, Cuba had at least four agents (recruited clandestinely) with the rank of ambassador in the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry. We wonder if some are still in the Foreign Ministry or simply adopt Cuban rhetoric for lack of judgment.

Cuba has an important penetration in all the countries of the region, in the governmental, legislative and military institutions as well as in the mass media, the academic circles and the entire sociocultural and political spectrum. Until 1989, the only exception was Paraguay, which did not have diplomatic relations with Cuba and had managed to contain the Cubans.

Thousands of spies and collaborators of the Cuban dictatorship throughout the world support the gigantic apparatus of disinformation, propaganda and influence of the regime. It is estimated that in the United States alone, the Cuban intelligence services have around 5,000 secret relationships.

It is evident that the best way to defend the freedom of Cubans and of all the peoples of the region is for the Cuban communist dictatorship to leave power.

How can the United States Government help Cubans obtain their freedom?

Many media outlets, analysts, and others have asked us how the Cuban people can be helped to regain freedom, and some members of the United States Congress await suggestions. We present some:

1. Provide or facilitate free internet access for all Cubans.

2. Apply the Magnitsky Law to agents of the Cuban state, which authorizes the United States Government to punish human rights violators, freeze their assets and prohibit them from entering the country. Issue a public statement to announce it and dedicate government resources to identifying the perpetrators.

3. Invite Canada and Brazil to co-lead a multilateral effort that includes the world’s democracies to:

Channel humanitarian assistance of all kinds to Cuba in a way that it only reaches the people directly and through independent groups, entities, churches and individuals, without the mediation of any entity of the Cuban State, and prohibit aid to all entities controlled by the State, including NGOs, as well as members of the Communist Party.

Demand the immediate release of ALL political prisoners in Cuba: those imprisoned before, during, and after the July 11 protests as well as those imprisoned for all political causes and legal aberrations such as the “crime” known as “pre-criminal social dangerousness” and economic “crimes,” such as the slaughter of livestock or the possession of food, medicine and basic products are legally sold only by the State.

Demand a peaceful transition to democracy and, if the Cuban government refuses, take multilateral actions of increasing intensity to press in that direction.

Encourage and help pro-democracy leaders in Cuba to outline, together, a roadmap for a peaceful transition to democracy.

4. Maintain open lines of communication with potential reformists within the Government and the Armed Forces of Cuba to encourage them to support a democratic transition.

5. Lead an effort within international organizations such as the OAS and the UN, through their multiple entities, to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

6. Prioritize counterintelligence resources to monitor and counteract Cuba’s activities in the United States.

7. Report on the threat that Cuba represents to national, regional and global security and allocate more resources to collaborate with the counterintelligence services of regional democracies to counter the work of Cuba and its flag-bearers.

8. Defend regional security, invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance to:

Support the  efforts for democracy in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua with non-war measures.

Discuss urgent collective measures to counteract the regional subversion of democracy and the rule of law by Cuba and its representatives or allies.

Send a message to Russia, China, Iran and all external actors that assisting in the repression of those peacefully protesting for freedom in Cuba will be considered acts of aggression that will have consequences.


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Maria Werlau Calls for End to Cuban Dominion Over Venezuela

María Werlau wants to put this material “at the disposal of analysts and governments.”

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Jorge Ignacio Pérez, Miami, February 26, 2020 — The Cuban-American researcher María Werlau had to fit together the pieces “like a puzzle” for her new book, in which she tackles in a comprehensive manner what she defines as the “asymmetric occupation” of Venezuela by Cuba, which, as she tells Efe, is “worse” than she imagined when she started.

“There are a few books and a lot of journalistic material, so I had to assemble everything. I don’t believe that there have been serious academic works of the kind that it is necessary to bring to this matter,” she said just before presenting this Wednesday in Miami María Werlau calls for end of Cuban dominion over Venezuela.

“There was a lot of loose and scattered material on different angles of the Cuban intervention, but there hadn’t been anything comprehensive on what was happening in Venezuela,” says Werlau, who arrived to the United States as a political refugee at eight months old. continue reading

“It was like a puzzle. On the way I realized that it was worse than what I had imagined,” she emphasized. Werlau, who is also an independent consultant, wants to put this material “at the disposal of analysts and governments.”

The volume, with almost 300 pages and 11 chapters, is published by the Free Society Project and is available in English and Spanish, although the additional chapter, The insurrectionary offensive of 2019: a change of tactics already tried, is only available in Spanish.

Cuba’s Intervention in Venezuela: A Strategic Occupation with Global Implications has around 1,600 bibliographic citations, more than 800 sources on the subject, and of those, more than 30 primary sources.

The volume goes back to the time of Venezuela’s constitutional government of Rómulo Betancourt (1959-1964), whom Fidel Castro immediately visited to propose “the same thing that he proposed to (Hugo) Chávez,” the “radical alliance” between the two countries, which remains in place despite the deaths of its architects.

“Fidel arrives in Venezuela (in 1959) 15 days after entering Havana (…). He arrives with the entire top brass of the rebel army and meets with Rómulo Betancourt and proposes to him the same thing he proposed to (Hugo) Chávez,” says the executive director of the NGO Free Society Project, better known as Cuba Archive.

According to Werlau, Castro was obsessed with Venezuela because of its geopolitical situation, as the doorway to the Caribbean, as well as its oil wealth.

The book, which according to the author “could have been the genesis of the Castro-Chávez relationship,” has a much broader content.

“It explains how, although Cuba is much smaller, poorer, and under-developed, it achieved the dominant role with a methodology derived from the totalitarian nature of its system,” as is read in the notes of the presentation.

Among the oral sources that Werlau consulted are retired generals in Venezuela and abroad, as well as experts in computer science.

One of those is Anthony Daquin, specialist in computer security systems, who spoke to Werlau about the fiber optic underwater cable that connects the two countries.

When Werlau says that to eradicate Cuban dominion over Venezuela “it’s necessary to cut the cable and start from zero,” it’s not a metaphor.

“In Cuba they said that (the cable) didn’t work, but I was impressed with what had been achieved,” she says.

“Cuba takes control of all the identity information of Venezuelans, manages communications, social media. The program to monitor this is called Estela [Wake]. Cuba has access to all of the identity of Venezuelans; I won’t even talk to you about the electoral register,” says the author.

“You don’t need a military force or weapons in the street to take a country,” explains Werlau on her concept of “assymetric occupation.”

But the author goes further and goes deep into the “social engineering” employed by Castroism, in the chapter Santeria, a sophisticated invasion. “Cuba had 20 more years to prepare its urban scenes, since Venezuelan money entered into the equation,” she says.

For this researcher, the lives of Castro and Chávez have a certain parallelism from both having received amnesty when in prison.

“Cuba sends a contingent of forces to help in the election campaigns of Chávez, who said he wasn’t a socialist, lying, because that was part of the plan,” she affirms.

“When Chávez went to Cuba in 1994 it was already arranged. Castro had proposed to him this role as his dauphin in taking the continent,” says the author.

“Fidel is the one who brought him to Havana and, although they have lied about this, there is a source who confirms that Fidel sent him to get him,” adds Werlau, who worked for three years in Venezuela with Chase Manhattan Bank.

For the author, “the socialism of the 21st century, as they orchestrated it in Venezuela, has important structural faults, because it requires a lot of time and money to break up democratic institutions from the inside.”

“The methodology works, the concern is what is going to happen without the quantity of Venezuela’s money at its disposition. That’s why they created the Pueblo Group and launch this new form of insurgency, which they have done best in Chile,” indicates Werlau.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

An interview with Maria Werlau, by Carlos Alberto Montaner

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, December 7, 2019 — With the publication of Carlos Alberto Montaner’s interview of María Werlua, we at 14ymedio begin a series of videos which will tackle the work of personalities, activists, and academics in Latin America.

In the voice of the Cuban analyst, journalist, and writer, these videos touch on themes ranging from the human rights situation in the region, to the state of democracy and the authoritarian regimes that still remain in the continent.

In this conversation, filmed at the beginning of 2019, the main theme revolves around the book that Werlau just published, The intervention of Cuba and Venezuela: a strategic occupation with global implications. continue reading

It is a detailed investigation that gathers proofs that “Cuba has essentially occupied Venezuela not with a tradtional military force but rather by assymetrical methods, strategically placing assets” within institutions and society, points out the activist and academic.

María Werlau, who runs the NGO Archivo Cuba and works as a consultant, denounces the human rights violations on the Island, as well as the fact that “Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela is only propped up thanks to the sinister help of the intelligence and counterintelligence of the Cuban metropolis.”

Recently Werlau commented on a report on Venezuela written by the high commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in which proof was shown of how Chavismo neutralizes, represses, and criminalizes the opposition and the dissidence.

A situation that Werlau says “derives from a comprehensive plan of integration drawn up by Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro of ideological, political, military, security, economic, judicial, and sociocultural nature, which also covers information and communications. Without the knowledge of Venezuelans, Cuba has conspired for decades to occupy the dominant role.”

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

The Intervention of Cuba in Venezuela: The Alliance of Two "Captive Nations" To Communism

Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel with the Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro in Havana (Marti Noticias)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, María Werlau, Washington, 20 October 2019 — A recent report on Venezuela by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed the Chavista strategy to neutralize, repress, and criminalize opposition and dissent. It also reports on the militarization of State institutions, restrictions on democratic space, dismantling of institutional checks and balances, the shrinking space for independent media, patterns of grave human rights violations as well as extensive extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions. and other abuses.

The deepening economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is constantly in the news. At least 87% of Venezuelans now live in poverty, social services have collapsed and people go hungry and die in hospitals for lack of supplies. More than 4 million Venezuelans have fled and the mass exodus continues.

This devastation in Venezuela results from the progressive transfer of Cuba’s socio-political and economic “revolutionary” template to Venezuela. It stems from a comprehensive integration plan forged by Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro of an ideological, political, military, security, economic, judicial, and socio-cultural nature that also encompasses information and communications. Unbeknownst to the Venezuelans, Cuba had plotted for decades to secure the dominating role. continue reading

Venezuela also adopted the Cuban prototype of socialism that imposed poverty on the people through centrally-planned “social” ownership of the means of production and distribution but with a captive capitalism (so-called “state capitalism”) for the exclusive enjoyment of the elite in power. However, the Venezuelan “Bolivarians” have brought plunder and ostentation to its maximum expression, likely beyond any historical precedent.

The investigation, with 800 bibliographic sources, describes how Cuba has essentially occupied Venezuela not with a traditional military force but by asymmetric means, strategically placing assets to control its economy, security forces, information, communications, and society in general.

It’s impossible to know from open sources how many Cubans are in Venezuela at the service of their government — many have passed no migration controls and pose as Venezuelans — but Cuban official sources (although never reliable) have reported around 46,000 Cuban “collaborators” there working on “more than 200 projects,” 21,500 of which are in the health sector.

That would officially leave at least 24,500 in unspecified capacities (most would presumably be in a security or military capacity). Other sources believe the number is much larger. However, the measure of Cuba’s role is not in the number of Cubans in Venezuela, it is in the influential and wide-ranging controlling roles they have in all of Venezuelan society, exerted both inside Venezuela and, importantly, from Cuba.

My study attributes Cuba’s colonization of the much larger and richer Venezuela to the Cuban military regime’s competencies or comparative advantages, enabled by the totalitarian nature of the system. Cuba’s intelligence and propaganda apparatus is formidable. In addition, the State exploits its citizens with no restraints or checks and balances through forced migration and as exported or expatriate workers (through a huge business of trafficking in persons), also engaging in transnational criminal activities.

The Cuba-Venezuela integration is part of a continental plan and is sustained by shared international criminal networks. This alliance, akin to conjoined mafia states, is involved in drug trafficking, illegal mining, money laundering, and other illegal activities in conjunction with transnational actors that are enemies of liberal democracy and share nefarious interests: states such as Iran, China, and Russia, and non-state actors such as Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, Russian mafias, Hezbollah, ELN and FARC.

This situation not only affects the citizens of both Venezuela and Cuba but also poses grave security threats, especially to the region.

Cuba’s intervention in Venezuela: A Strategic Occupation with Global Implications is available here in English


The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by now becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.

Barnes & Nobles Glorifies Che Guevara in the Heart of Miami

The author asked, unsuccessfully, for the library to place the book about Che in a less prominent place. (Maria C. Werlau)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Maria C. Werlau, Miami, 9 September 2019 — Last Thursday, I went into the Barnes & Nobles bookstore at Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, to grab a coffee between meetings and lay eyes on some books, which have enamored me since childhood. To my astonishment, as I walked in from the back entrance, the first thing that caught my eye was a stack of books of Che Guevara in prominent display under a sign for “Reference books.”

I went straight to the book Che, a Revolutionary Icon (by Luis Enrique Martínez, New York: Charwell Books, 2018). Page after page tells a selective and glorified story of Guevara under subtitles such as “The legend is born,” “The messenger of love,” “A revolutionary adventurer,” “The price of glory,” “Che lives forever,” with many glossy photos from many phases of his life. I found no subtitles such as “The killing machine,“ “the butcher of La Cabaña,” “terrorist,” “aristocratic racist,” or other less laudatory labels also used to describe him.

A few brief sentences of the 187-page volume referred to his command at La Cabaña prison but fail to even mention any of the human beings executed there by his order (“just around two hundred”) and missing were photos of the execution wall. continue reading

There is no mention of the camp he created at Guanahacabibes, a remote peninsula in Cuba, to send his underlings at the Ministry of Industry for hard labor as “rehabilitation” punishment for all kinds of so-called transgressions. Missing too were references to his leadership in eliminating free press, destroying the economy, and installing a totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba, of his support for nuking the US during the missile crisis, or of his defiant declaration to the UN General Assembly that “we will continue to execute as long as necessary.”

The page at the end of the volume for “Suggested Reading” had a bibliography with just more adoring works and selective Che writings. This is what Barnes and Nobles offers under “Reference books.”

There is no mention of the camp he created at Guanahacabibes, a remote peninsula in Cuba, to send his underlings from the Ministry of Industry for hard labor as “rehabilitation” punishment for all kinds of so-called transgressions.

Missing too were references to his leadership in eliminating freedom of the press, destroying the economy, and installing a totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba, or his support for a nuclear attack on the US during the missile crisis, or of his defiant declaration to the UN General Assembly that “we will continue to execute as long as necessary.”

The page at the end of the volume for “Suggested Reading” had a bibliography with just more adoring works and selective Che writings. This is what Barnes and Nobles offers under “Reference books.”

I asked the employees if they had any books on Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Mao or other famous world figures known for their revolutionary views or for being leaders of non-democratic regimes. They were helpful but could not find any. All they knew about Guevara was that his image adorns lots of t-shirts.

So, I asked to see the manager and when Andy arrived, I explained to him, very politely, that Miami is the home of a large Cuban American community that is particularly sensitive to the misguided Che cult because many of them suffered directly from Guevara’s actions.  I told him I was not in favor of censorship but that I knew children and siblings of men executed by Guevara who lived in Miami.

Plus, I said, I would have been just as upset had I found a glowing book on Osama Bin Laden displayed prominently at a B&N bookstore in my New Jersey hometown, that lost ten people on September 11th.

Andy was clueless, he told me he was born in Cuba but had left as a young child and knew nothing about Guevara. I politely asked him to at least consider moving the books to a less prominent location. When I walked back from the coffee shop to leave some minutes later, Andy was asking the young woman at the Customer Service desk near the display to move the stack of books to the other side of the table, not visible when customers walk in. She looked annoyed and made a sarcastic comment.

The next day I had a lunch date a block from the bookstore and decided to pass by to look at the books. To my dismay, they were in exactly the same place. Later, I phoned the store and asked to talk to the manager. Diane answered (Andy wasn’t there) and when I explained the situation she said she was close to someone whose relative had been killed by Guevara. She added she would move the books to less prominent location but didn’t feel comfortable removing them.

I did a search on the Barnes and Nobles website, for “Osama Bin Laden” and got 150 results, none of which seem to glorify the “terrorist” (a passionate and committed Islamist to his followers); most had to do with hunting and killing him.

A search for Adolf Hitler had over 400 results, many were Mein Kampf by different publishers and none of the books for sale seemed favorable to the murderer. A search on the “Angel of Death” Nazi, Josef Mengele also returned only critical works. The search for “neonazis” and “white supremacy” did not return volumes that justified or supported these ideologies or movements.

In other words, the personnel at B&N who select the books they sell seem to have a double standard when it comes to mass murderers, and as far as I have been able to find, have chosen only one book that pushes the cult of Che Guevara, “the killing machine,” to use his own words to describe.

Ironically, the book is authored by Luis Enrique Martínez, described as a freelance writer born in Venezuela who “now lives in London after leaving his home country where violence and crime had become so frequent … Che Guevara fascinated him from the time he was a boy when he had a poster of the revolutionary on his bedroom wall.”

Good grief! After Che’s “New Man” finally found a foothold in Venezuela, his “fascinated” fan left for London!!! The edition is from 2018, when the effects of Castro-Chavismo had been patently obvious for years. This Cuban neo-communist modality that Che helped to create was used to transfer the Cuban template to Venezuela.

Sadly, it seems that the adoring fan still fails to understand why the Che lovefest (and the Cuban Revolution) has real consequences.

For my part, I have no intention to  shop at Barnes and Nobles unless the book is removed from sale. (I did buy the book grudgingly, as I needed to research it in order to write about it.)

I know that we cannot undo a multimillion dollar global advertising campaign that promotes the mythology of Che, but at least we can refuse to stand around with our arms crossed when a business or institution that we may or may not patronize glorifies a mass murderer.


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

The Forgotten Victims of ‘Che’ Guevara

“Executions, yes we have executed, we are executing and we will continue to execute as long as necessary.” Ernesto Guevara speaking at the United Nations in 1964. (

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Maria Werlau, Miami, 9 October 2017 — ‘Che’ Guevara’s face adorns T-shirts worn by many opponents of capital punishment, but the flesh-and-blood man displayed a deep contempt for the sanctity of human life.

Behind the carefully constructed myth of Che, there is a dark and irreconcilable truth. A cursory look at the extensive bibliography on Che, including his own writings, and a glance at the list of his known victims, makes that patently clear.

Guevara knew, through his self-study of communism, that terror would be a necessary component of revolutionary order. Besides, he had come prepared for the task of executioner; in the Sierra Maestra he had been forged as a serial killer. Of the 25 executions by the Rebel Army during the fight against Batista that Cuba Archive has documented, at least 6 were at Che’s hand or ordered by him. From the 1st of January 1959, he and the Castro brothers pushed the imperative to kill to guarantee control in Cuba. continue reading

The death penalty was practically abolished in Cuba, as article 25 of the 1940 Constitution forbade its application except in cases of military treason. But on 10 January 1959 the new Council of Revolutionary Ministers modified the constitution, ignoring the clauses about the process for its amendment, and on 10 February 1959 they promulgated a new Basic Law. Thus, the constitution was subordinated, and essentially abolished, granting the death penalty a vestige of legality and permitting its retroactive application.

From January 1 to 3, 1959, Che executed, or left orders to execute, 25 people in Santa Clara. On 3 January, Fidel Castro appointed him commander of La Cabaña prison in Havana and supreme judge of the revolutionary tribunals. In the short period in which he was in charge of La Cabaña (from January 4 to November 26, 1959), at least 73 people were executed without basic legal guarantees and the great majority without their crimes having been proven. Che not only commanded La Cabaña, but was also the judge in charge of all appeals.

Curiously, the best biographies of Che Guevara have devoted hundreds of pages to the smallest minutia of his life, but given almost zero attention to his victims. In fact, Che’s clothes, appearance, interests, sexuality, or personal correspondence receive more interest than those whose lives he stole or the tracks of pain he left in the anguished families of his victims.

Che spoke frankly to the international community about the executions in Cuba. At the United Nations in New York on 11 December 1964, he made his famous declaration: “Executions, yes we have executed, we are executing and we will continue to execute as long as necessary.”

What is less legendary, but more shocking, is that he was in favor of unleashing nuclear war to “build a better world,” supposedly from the ashes, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. A few weeks later, he told a British journalist if the missiles had been under Cuban control, they would have been launched. If there were any doubts about his objectives, his 1967 message at the Tricontinental Conference passionately advocating the destruction of the United States.

The real number of Che’s victims may never be known. In addition to those he may have killed in Cuba and who are still unknown, many others died in the guerrilla revolts he led in the Congo and Bolivia, as well as other violent actions he led in Latin America. After his death, the totalitarian system he helped to design and impose in Cuba has cost thousands of lives and the communist model he was devoted to has left a number of victims calculated at 100 million in the world.

In this era of suicide bombers who massacred civilians for fanatic objectives, it is imperative to make clear who Che really was. We owe his victims a memory and we owe the loved ones they left behind solidarity. They were plunged into a pain underestimated by the world, made deeper by the exaltation of the executioner.


María Werlau heads the Cuba Archive Project. The second edition of her book, The Forgotten Victims of Che Guevara, includes the profiles of some of his victims.