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The regime “cleans house” in an attempt to maintain the dictatorship.

Mystery surrounds the deaths of 23 high-ranking military officers within Cuba’s communist party who have died since July 2021.

At the same time, trials continue in the politically embattled island nation of protesters who participated in last year’s historic anti-government demonstrations.

And experts believe there is a connection between the events.

One of the most powerful men in the nation is among the nearly two dozen dead: General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja. He died of a heart attack last week on July 1.

Not all analysts think this is a coincidence, but rather a symptom of the regime “cleaning house” in an attempt to restore order.

“The ‘sudden death’ of General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja raises questions about the stability and durability of communist tyranny in Cuba,” said Dr. Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat.

Boronat is an analyst and coordinator of the pro-democracy coalition Assembly of the Cuban Resistance.

He points out that there are a couple of reasons why of the 23 deaths of military officers since last July, Calleja’s is a good barometer of the situation within the Cuban regime.

First was the sudden nature of it all: a fatal heart attack. Second, Calleja was a symbol of power and continuity within the regime.

The US government has long known that Havana has biological weapons at its disposal that can induce health complications. The scope and possible applications were discussed at length during a Senate hearing in 2002.

At a foreign relations committee hearing that same year, former assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research Carl Ford stated that he believed Cuba had at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort.

Calleja served as the right-hand man and adviser to current President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel.

At one point, the general was married to the daughter of Raúl Castro and was also executive president of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Business Administration Group.

Boronat claims that Calleja was the real power within the communist regime, saying that he ran the “state within a state.”

“His death may be more significant than that of Raúl Castro.”

It is unknown if Calleja’s death was due to natural causes or something more sinister. However, in the wake of last year’s nationwide anti-government protests, a pattern has emerged.

On July 11, 2021, the largest anti-communist demonstrations in decades ignited and spread like wildfire across the country.

Díaz-Canel described the protesters as “mercenaries” and deployed an armed response to subdue the dissidents.

Police and soldiers rushed to stem the tide of a new revolution. Efforts were made to identify the organizers and leaders of the group, who were quickly arrested and continue to face trials, torture and long prison sentences to this day.

Yet just seven days after Cuba’s armed forces struggled to put out the flames of the rebellion, Commander Agustín Peña Porrez, 58, died on July 18, 2021. Then five other high-ranking military officers they followed him in less than 10 days.

Two generals even died on the same day, including Reserve Brigadier General Manuel Eduardo Lastres Pacheco and Brigadier General Armando Choy Rodríguez.

Both died on July 26.

Of the initial six, all were reportedly cremated immediately after death with no autopsy or discussion of funeral arrangements. The Cuban government also withheld details about the causes of death.

This was repeated a couple of months later when two more communist military generals were killed on the same day, September 30.

The regime refused to explain or provide further details to the public.

Altogether, since the July 11 protests, four officers have died in August of last year, six in September, two in October and one in December. The highest number of military officer deaths, 16, occurred within 60 days of the historic July demonstrations.

“I think the criticism of the regime’s response to the July 11 protests may have triggered an internal purge,” Boronat said.

In 2022, four more Cuban generals died, including one military general per month in February, March, June and July.

Although when it came to Calleja’s death, the core of the communist leadership broke its silence.

“A revolutionary has left us, a man who served the Homeland and the Revolution in all his trenches,” Díaz-Canel published on his Twitter account.

Some experts attribute the sudden departure of the old guard from Cuba to the devastating effects that COVID-19 has had on the country.

To date, more than 1 million cases of the virus have been reported in the small island nation, along with 8,529 deaths, according to data from the World Health Organization.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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