Independent outlets published videos this week showing cemetery workers in Cuba dumping suspected Chinese coronavirus victims in mass graves, sometimes with individuals who did not test positive for the pathogen, as the island again breaks records for single-day deaths.
In at least one large central city, residents say party officials are so overwhelmed with bodies of the dead that they have begun to bury corpses in the private yards of local families — without consent, as the communist regime does not recognize private property outside of the control of the Castro family — and littered the city with bodies to the point that locals cannot escape the smell of decomposition in their homes.
Cuba’s Public Health Ministry revealed Wednesday that 98 coronavirus patients had died in the previous 24 hours, among them a three-year-old girl. The death rate is the highest single-day number for the island nation since the pandemic began and brings the total death toll to 3,091 people. The ministry also reported that the country is treating 46,113 people at present, another single-day record. As Cuba has for decades established a reputation for misreporting medical data, many international experts believe that the communist regime’s statistics may be undercounting coronavirus cases and deaths.
Adding to those concerns are reports of overwhelmed cemeteries tossing coffins into mass graves, reportedly resulting, in some cases, in government officials losing bodies and giving families incorrect information on their loved ones’ final resting places. The Castro regime has denied burying people in mass graves, but the Spanish independent outlet Diario de Cuba confirmed the authenticity of videos of mass graves in Cuba on Monday.
The most widely circulated video, which the outlet confirmed to be legitimate, shows a mass grave in the eastern regional capital of Santiago de Cuba. Cemetery workers appear to be filling a mass grave with various coffins; the video shows no indication that the staffers are labeling the graves or keeping track of who is in which coffin.
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One of the sources confirming the veracity of the video to the outlet identified the cemetery in question as Santiago de Cuba’s Juan González Cemetery but noted it was one of “numerous locations” in the regime where mass graves became common as coronavirus cases rose. Another source confirmed the existence of mass graves in Juan González to Diario de Cuba by explaining that his grandmother had ended up in one following her death on July 24.
The woman did not have any coronavirus symptoms and was not diagnosed with the disease. The person in question filmed the mass burial. The relative speaking to Diario de Cuba said she likely died of starvation at a hospital as she could not eat, but health workers did not have the resources to give her nutrition through an intravenous device.
“Why don’t they say that they have collapsed funeral homes,” the person asked, referring to Cuban state media, “that there are corpses with maggots in them waiting for a hearse?”
Another Cuban independent outlet headquartered on the island, 14 y Medio, reported Monday that the high number of deaths in central Ciego de Ávila had caused so much chaos that local government officials had begun piling and burying bodies in the backyards of neighbors whose houses lay on the perimeter of the local cemetery.
Moraima Lugo, a resident in Ciego de Ávila, told 14 y Medio that she could not eat inside her home “from the bad smell” and that the government “had flooded us with bodies everywhere.”
“We have been complaining for over a week … because what we are living through we wouldn’t wish on anyone, it’s like being in a horror movie,” Lugo said. “The fences they tore down to expand the cemetery] belong to people’s backyards who have been living there a long time.”
Lugo complained the government was leaving bodies “a few meters from their [residents’] bedroom windows.”
Ciego de Ávila residents also reported the use of mass graves, adding the detail that, as the graves were so large, the coffins were often left out in the open as cemetery workers waiting for more bodies to pile into them, leaving the bodies exposed aside from their wooden coffins. Some loved ones report seeing the coffins of their loved ones sitting openly in a mass grave for a long as 15 days.
Some reports suggest that those buried in mass graves are, in some cases, unaccounted for. Diario de Cuba reported on a case this week denounced by Santiago de Cuba resident Yanelis Rodríguez Semanat in which authorities did not tell the family of his cousin’s wife where her body was, only that she had died, resulting in relatives desperately calling every hospital in the area for information on the body. In another case denounced by a resident identified as Yamilka Castellanos, a coronavirus patient — Castellanos’ cousin — reportedly died after being diagnosed with coronavirus and not receiving care for five days at a local clinic.
“She was without a bed at the clinic for five days, died [coronavirus] positive and they buried her in a mass grave with 40 others, covered it up, and that’s it,” Castellanos said.