Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crime in Cuba: Just because its not reported doesn't make it safe

Lara Jones murdered by hostel security guard at government hotel
Today we learned that Lara Jones, a 26 year old British woman who was "a highly experienced and cautious traveler", was murdered in Cuba last year. The young woman according to news accounts was attracted to the Caribbean island, by its boasts of enjoying the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere.

Unfortunately, the claim that Cuba has the lowest crime rate in the hemisphere is most likely untrue. In addition to the non-reporting on cholera and dengue outbreaks there is a history of delaying and not reporting serious crimes in Cuba. An exchange student studying Spanish in Havana was gunned down and robbed by Cuban soldier(s) in Havana on March 29, 1997.

Danish exchange student gunned down by Cuban soldier(s)

This is not a new or isolated phenomenon.

The Miami Herald on December 19, 2001 reported on the roadside murder of a family of five in Cuba stating:
Florida residents as Ada Lorenzo, 52, and Celedonio Placencia, 60, who were assaulted late Sunday or early Monday as they traveled from Havana to their family's home in Santa Clara.

The three other victims lived on the island: one of the couple's twin daughters, 28-year-old Yailén Placencia; their grandson Daniel Osmani Placencia Pérez; and Domingo Delgado, a family friend who picked them up at José Martí International Airport in Havana.

The couple had flown to Cuba on Sunday to visit Celedonio Placencia's gravely ill mother, family members said. Their bodies were found along a stretch of the Ocho Vias highway near Matanzas. Relatives in Florida said they were shot and stabbed and that the couple's daughter had her throat slit.
In the same article other killings and disappearances were reported:
In May 2001, an American priest was strangled in his home in central Havana, a month after he returned to Cuba to help the poor. The Rev. George Zirwas, 47, originally from McDonald, Pa., near Pittsburgh, was found by a neighbor. A State Department official said his apartment was ransacked.

In January 1999, two Cubans were sentenced to death for the September 1998 murder of two Italian tourists. A foreign press agency said the two Cubans also confessed to killing a German tourist in

November 1997 and a Canadian of Iranian descent in August 1998.

In November 1999, Claudia von Weiss de Venegas, a German married to a Bolivian with business ties in Cuba, disappeared from the Playa Giron area. She is still missing. 
German woman missing in Cuba since 1999 feared dead (Missing Scout)
 Claudia, the German woman, was never found and a decade later  her husband spoke out stating that he hoped one day to find out what had happened to his wife, who left a hotel on a bicycle with $500 and was never heard from again. He has given up on finding her alive. 

Cuba"experts" who claim that crime rates are low in Cuba fail to mention that the communist dictatorship rarely reports on violent crime and has been known to omit bad news and cook the books as in the case of the 2012-2013 cholera outbreak.

In this case the omissions of the Cuban government and the positive spin by so-called Cuba experts may have been a contributing factor into Lara Jones death.  The lack of a free press to hold the Castro regime accountable means in practical terms that the actual crime rate in Cuba is unknown.

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