Two Health Workers Arrested in Santiago de Cuba for Stealing ‘Hearts of Possible Human Origin’

Public Health officials confirmed the arrest on December 9 of two employees of the Doctor Ambrosio Grillo Portuondo Hospital. (Provincial Directorate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 December 2022 — After an intense wave of rumors, Public Health of Santiago de Cuba has confirmed that two employees of the Doctor Ambrosio Grillondo Hospital have been arrested after being found with “hearts of possible human origin.” The incident had been reported last Friday by a Twitter user who demanded explanations about this “terrifying and creepy” event.

“Indeed, there are two workers of the referenced hospital who work as a surgeon and an occupational therapist, arrested on December 9, 2022, for the  alleged criminal act of stealing two hearts of possible human origin,” reads the brief note disseminated on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) of Santiago de Cuba this Saturday.

The entity clarifies that both employees are currently “in the investigative process by the organs of the National Revolutionary Police and a commission” that seeks to clarify the facts. The text has already accumulated hundreds of comments from Internet users, who want detailed information about what happened.

The unusual note from MINSAP, which rarely alludes to complaints about the operation of their hospitals, came more than 24 hours after Yannis Estrada warned that something had happened. “An employee of the Ambrosio Grillo Hospital, very close to the Sanctuary of the Copper Virgin, was sentenced to 30 years in prison when it was known that he was extracting organs and body fat from the deceased to crush them and sell them as picadillo,” he said in a tweet that provoked an avalanche of indignation and questions.

This Saturday, Estrada warned about the official response: “Finally, the Ministry of Public Health of the Cuban regime has spoken about the news I shared yesterday. I simply received some information, published it and classified it as what it is: a terrifying and creepy fact.”

Sources in the activism and religious life of Santiago de Cuba had already assured 14ymedio of the existence of the rumor, but no one had been able to confirm the fact. As the hours passed, however, “it was clear that something had happened because the hospital workers were terrified to talk, but they didn’t deny the complaint,” says a neighbor who called the hospital to inquire about what happened.

In the comments on MINSAP’s note, the responses of readers range from discomfort to the demand for a detailed investigation. For José Hidalgo, the punishment must be severe: “Let an exemplary measure be taken. Those are the characters who try to sink our people, and there are the others who wait for a negative action like that for malicious propaganda.”

But the ghost of the economic crisis and the adulteration of food that go hand in hand with the shortages are also present among those who give an opinion. “Something so serious and just one brief description and that’s it. This is delicate, horrendous, and there is more than one person in charge including the management. What is rumored that I don’t doubt is that it’s a crime of the officials. You have to take down the buyers and the sellers,” claims another commentator.

Urban legends and confirmed cases of food handling that proliferated during the economic crisis of the 90s, officially known as the Special Period, include cloths to clean the floor being converted into alleged pork steak and tomato sauces made from foods and dyes; also the use of antibiotics to replace yeast or melted condoms to imitate cheese in pizzas.

Recently, the video of some Cuban children who are skinning several cats to allegedly eat them has fueled those ghosts of the past. Until now, the ruling party had remained silent about these incidents, but the case of the Ambrosio Grillo Portuondo hospital seems to have forced a pronouncement on an issue that has been the main topic of the Christmas conversations in Cuba.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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