Five high-ranking military leaders died in the span of just 10 days, according to the Cuban government — though it’s remained mum on the causes.
Brigadier General Armando Choy Rodriguez, 87, was the latest aging revolutionary to die, with Marta Abreu Central University announcing on Twitter that he passed away Monday.
Rodriguez was the founder of the “July 26 Movement” in Las Villas, and an author and historian, WPLG-TV in Miami said.
Also on Monday, Manuel Eduardo Lastres Pacheco, a former general who served under Argentine Ernesto “Che” Guevara during the revolution in the late 1950s, passed away, Cuban television confirmed.
Pacheco later served as commander of Cuba’s Eastern Army.
On Saturday, Gen. Ruben Martinez Puente, a 79-year-old general in Cuba’s army reserve and a controversial figure in the military also died.
Puente was the general who gave the order to shoot down a civilian plane from the Cuban exile group “Brothers to the Rescue” in 1996 — bringing tensions with the US to a fever pitch.
Marcelo Verdecia Perdomo, another Army Reserve brigadier general and a former Castro bodyguard, died on July 20, the Communist Party newspaper Granma said.
Finally, Agustin Pena Porres, former commander of the Western Army and a member of Cuba’s Communist Central Committee, passed away on July 17, WPLG said.
According to Florida-based news outlet “Periodico Cubano,” the deaths follow that of Brigadier General Ivan Duponte Cabrales in May at the age of 77.
The more recent deaths come in the wake of massive protests in the Communist country earlier this month, with thousands of Cubans taking to the streets to demand freedom, food, and medications — including COVID vaccines.
The global pandemic has spiked in the past month, with new daily cases jumping from 1,880 on June 24 to 7,732 one month later.
Overall, Cuba has had more than 340,000 coronavirus cases and 2,417 deaths since the outbreak of the deadly virus last year, WPLG said.
Cuban government officials have not said if the recent deaths of the five military leaders were linked to the virus.