The Dark Death of Adrian LeyvaPublished: Jan 18, 2024 Reading time: 2 minutes
Over the last 60 years, the mass exodus of people from Cuba has taken many lives. There are many people who drowned on their homemade rafts in the middle of the Caribbean, with no one to document it.
Such was the case of Cuban opposition member and journalist Adrian Leyva Perez. He tried to return back home from Florida, but disappeared on the journey back to Cuba. Adrian emigrated to the United States as a political refugee to escape persecution for his activism.
Adrian first went back to Cuba in 2008 to see his mom, and his sister. He wanted to stay, but the authorities forced him on a plane after staying only three months. But Adrian was determined to get back to Cuba. In 2009, he bought a plane ticket to Havana, but when he landed, the border control denied him entry. But Adrian wasn’t going to let this stop him. Motivated to once again walk the streets of his neighborhood and see his family, he built a raft and set sail from Florida on the 22nd of March 2010.
The Cuban authorities found Adrian’s body on April 5th, sixteen days after he left from Miami. During those days, his friends and relatives in Florida and Cuba tried to find him. His sister, Eva Leyva Perez went to the State Security Bureau to see if they knew anything. A few hours later, they told Eva that they had found Adrian’s body, and she would need to come identify it.
“They told me he had been found in a raft with three other men about a mile off the Cuban coastline. They said they were able to recover all four people, but Adrian’s condition was so bad that he drowned before they could reach him.” After identifying the body, a funeral procession was held by Adrian’s mother, sister, and friends in the streets of Havana.
During the funeral, Adrian’s relatives were able to get a look at his body. His face was easily recognizable, it was definitely him. Adrian’s nephew, Denis, was able to see that his uncle's body seemed to have bruises all over his chest and ribs. His body did not look like someone who had drowned. Adrian’s mother saw this, and said; “They killed my son just for wanting to come back home.”
Thirteen years later, the case of Adrian Leyva is one of the many cases of mysterious deaths that Cubans continue to experience to this day.