Missing Spanish woman and child found “held” by a healer in Cuba

Brother says suspect has been placed in custody and faces 20 years in prison for kidnapping and fraud

Ana María Linares and her daughter Alba in a missing person poster.
Ana María Linares and her daughter Alba in a missing person poster.

A 43-year-old woman and her six-year-old daughter who had been reported missing by relatives in Spain have been found in Cuba. The family said that a santera – a traditional healer – had “kidnapped” them and that there might be more victims of “deception through healing rituals.”

“What initially looked like a voluntary act by my sister with my niece has evolved into kidnapping and fraud,” said one of her brothers, Pablo Linares. This santera was described by the family as “a toxic, manipulative woman” who was only looking “to extract money” from their relative.

Fortunately they are in good health, although my sister is very thin

Pablo Linares. brother

The alleged swindler has been arrested and placed in custody, while mother and daughter have returned to Spain. In statements to the Andalusian TV network Canal Sur, Linares said that the suspect “is in prison and the prosecutor said she is facing a 20-year sentence in Cuba.”

Sources familiar with the investigation, which was carried out jointly by the Civil Guard and National Police, confirmed that the santera has been arrested and that the probe remains open because “she may have deceived more people by making them believe that she would cure them through rituals in exchange for money.”

The healer got in touch with the Spanish woman, Ana María, in August of this year on the Canary island of Fuerteventura, where the former worked as a supermarket cashier. The santera allegedly convinced Ana María that she could cure her health problems through rituals and prayers.

The santera was described by the family as “a toxic, manipulative woman”

“My sister and niece have been victims of manipulation by a family clan, hatched through the administration of substances, deception, and health promises based on Cuban medical practices and santería rituals, which made my sister lose agency over her own actions,” said her brother Pablo Linares in a thank you note to everyone who helped locate mother and child.

On September 5, Ana María and her daughter Alba traveled to Cuba and were not heard from again. This silence, together with Ana María’s “erratic and contradictory behavior” in the days prior to the trip, worried her relatives, who filed a complaint that triggered a police search and an investigation. Ana María had told her family that she was traveling to Madrid for a job interview.

Pablo Linares said that on September 11 he and Ana María’s ex-husband – Alba’s father – traveled to Cuba with private investigators. That same day mother and daughter were located and released.

“Fortunately they are in good health, although my sister is very thin,” said Linares. “They need peace and quiet, rest and specialized help to restore their physical, mental and emotional balance.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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