Although the figure may rise in the coming days, at least 111 people died in the Havana-Holguín disaster.The causes of the disaster are under investigation, but already point to the very poor condition of the aircraft. Regardless of the result of these investigations, one can already speak of the Cuban airline's critical state.
In 2005 a site specialized in aeronautical disasters compared the data of accidents occurring over a 25-year period around the globe and ranked Cubana de Aviación as the worst airline in the world, for having the highest number of victims per million flights flown.
The vast majority of those killed in last week's accident were Cuban citizens traveling from Havana to Holguin. They chose to fly, but making the trip by car would not have offered them much more safety. According to official statistics, in the last five years, 3,738 people have died on Cuban roads, and 41,460 have been injured. That is, in the last five years every day two people have died in car accidents, and another 23 have suffered injuries. And these figures are rising: in 2017 there were 292 deaths more than in the previous year. Car accidents are the fifth leading cause of death in the country.
When the pro-government press lists the possible causes of this phenomenon, it is careful to place the ruinous state of the country's roads, and the lack of signs, last. They are quick to blame a lack of attention, drunk drivers, and animals loose on roads. Even it, however, is now starting to refer to "asphalt cemeteries" and calling for infrastructure repairs.
The disaster of the Havana-Holguín flight confirms the trajectory of a company like Cubana de Aviación. In addition to the 111 deaths on that flight, there are thousands of fatalities and injuries suffered during land-based travel. They can be placed on the same list: those who died because they needed to travel.
As these roads and airlines and airports belong exclusively to the Cuban State, as their sole owner, the increasing numbers of human lives lost, whether by air or by land, reflect the State’s lack of respect for human life, as it expresses little concern about the state of the country's infrastructure.
Travelling in Cuba cannot continue to pose a risk to so many human lives. In this area President Díaz-Canel has an urgent and essential task ahead of him.