The Cuban Government Declared Only One Seventh of the Deaths from Covid, According to National Statistics

A micro-brigade builds vaults for burials in Holguín. (Communal Services of Holguín/Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 May 2022 — The latest demographic data from Cuba’s National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei) are unappealable: in 2021, 55,206 more Cubans died than in 2020. According to a report dated May 11, last year 167,645 people died on the island, compared to the 112,439 who did so the previous year, an increase of 49.1%.

The figure contrasts abysmally with the deaths reported as a result of covid-19 during 2021 by the Ministry of Public Health, 8,177, which indicates an underreporting in the official data of the pandemic on the Island of 47,029 deaths. That is, the underestimation was 85.2% (there were 6.75 times more deaths than those officially attributed to Covid). Or put another way, the Cuban government has declared only a seventh of the deaths from coronavirus.

In other countries, especially those hit by Covid-19 in the first waves of 2020, the authorities corrected the initial figures of the impact of the coronavirus and attributed the anomalies in the excess mortality shown by the statistics of that year to the pandemic. Since there is no other exceptional event in the year – as would be the case if there were a war – this excess can only be attributed to the coronavirus.

At the end of 2020, the Cuban Ministry of Health reported 146 deaths from Covid, despite the fact that the following Onei report, published in June 2021, also indicated a slight increase in mortality: from 109,080 deaths in 2019 to 112,439 in 2020. This represents an underestimation of deaths from the disease of 95.65% (there were 23 times more deaths than those officially attributed to Covid).

Before the official demographic data came to light, numerous signs suggested that the death toll from Covid-19 was much higher than what the Government was declaring.

At the beginning of 2021, it attracted a lot of attention that the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba was no longer functioning, although the authorities then justified the construction of a new cemetery by saying that the second city in the country “is one of the oldest territories of the country” and, in addition, presented an “increase in conditions such as cancer in different locations and heart attacks.”

Months later, in summer, when the pandemic peaked on the Island, it was already difficult to cover the sun with a finger, and the official press reported the expansion of cemeteries in other cities such as Holguín, Ciego de Ávila or Saint Clare.

In addition, testimonies denouncing the presence of mass graves and the bad smell around the cemeteries multiplied on social networks. Faced with the increase in deaths, and in the midst of a growing shortage, the state company for Communal Services lowered the quality of the coffins, an improvisation that caused discomfort among the families of the deceased.

All of this contrasted with the triumphalism of the Government of Miguel Díaz-Canel, which boasted of having vaccinated the vast majority of its population with antidotes of national origin –- Soberana 02, Abdala and Soberana Plus -– which to date have not yet been approved by the World Health Organization.

The data provided by the State are those that then appear in the world statistics on the pandemic, which is why Cuba appears as one of the countries with the lowest mortality from covid on the planet. If it were confirmed that the more than 55,000 deaths were due to covid, it would rank, in absolute numbers, in 23rd place in the tables, between Chile (57,680) and Hungary (43,643).

In relation to the size of the population, the Cuban data is among the worst in the world. On the Island, 4,929 people per million inhabitants died. Only Peru (6,529 per million) and Bulgaria (5,356) registered worse figures. In the United States it was 3,009 per million.

For the rest, the latest Onei report reflects the general decline in the population: 11,113,215 registered in 2021 compared to 11,181,595 in 2020, a downward difference of 68,380. If deaths are subtracted, 13,174 Cubans are missing from last year’s census compared to the previous year.


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.