The death of Marcos Santamaría, almost two years ago, might have been avoided if the Little Hospital in the ashram in Puttaparthi as well as the Superspecialities hospital had the correct medical equipment. Not discounting the fact that it looks like Sai Baba gave him the wrong kind of advice. This is the story:

Marcos Santamaría was from Venezuela. He had been president of the SSO there and he later had a higher office on an international level in Latin America. He had changed his residence to Miami, Florida in the USA due to the turbulent political and economic situation in his country.

Mr. Santamaria was married and had two children. During a group interview with people from Venezuela, SB asked Marcos if he would like to have another child. He answered no, but his wife, Maria Elena, said yes and SB called Marcos "lazy". SB added that there was a very special spirit waiting to reincarnate in a spiritual family. The couple had another son in 1993 and called him Marcos Sai.

Marcos was regarded as being "spoiled by Baba" due to the large number of interviews he had had and the ring and other jewelry he received. Eventually he didn't even have to stand in line for anything in the ashram due to the fact that he had reached a VIP status. For a man of 32 and considering the time he had been a devotee, this seemed like an unusual amount of progress within the organization.


Nevertheless a tragic destiny awaited him in the near future. He had suffered from hepatitis C since he was very young. He had had one operation and attended regular check ups. For some time SB had advised him to stop taking medicaments and stop the check ups, although Marcos had his ailment pretty well controlled. "I will take care of you", said Baba. Marcos followed his advice implicitly. It wasn't long before Marcos began to get progressively worse. His face showed signs of an imminent death.

On his last trip to the ashram, while sitting on the verandah (a privileged spot for VIP's only) SB walked up to Marcos and said, "In a few days, you will be with me". I understand that Marcos said to a SSO officer from Argentina by the name of Rivas, who was a close friend of his, that he felt he was going to die. From that moment, he stopped telephoning his wife.

On November 22, 2000, a day before Sai Baba's birthday, Marcos showed signs of bleeding under the skin in the varicose veins around his neck and needed urgent medical attention. He couldn't go directly to the Super Specialities Hospital because the bureaucracy at the ashram requires that one must first go to what is called the Little Hospital in the ashram, where he was informed that they couldn't do anything because they didn't have an endoscope and neither did the Super Specialities Hospital. They advised him to go to a hospital in Bangalore which is a 3 hour ride from Puttaparthi. He also found out that there was no ambulance in the hospitals, therefore his co-patriot Argenis Orozco, who at the time was National Service Coordinator in Venezuela, hired a taxi and accompanied him on the trip. The only treatment received in the hospital was a serum.


On the way to Bangalore Marcos seemed peaceful and even hopeful that he might survive. However he went into comma before they arrived at the hospital. Unfortunately, his liver was totally deteriorated and he expired the following day without ever regaining his consciousness. His wife and the two older children, a boy of 15 and an 18 year old girl arrived from Miami. There was an impressive Vedic ceremony with family and friends for his cremation.  Michael Goldstein was among those present


The following day SB called the family for an interview, 'materialized' a ring for the elder son, whose name is Estéfano and told him that he would take care of them and that now Estéfano was to be the head of the family.


It didn't take long before all sorts of comments began to be heard all through the ashrams as to how fortunate Marcos was to have come to die in India, how he had been liberated, etc. I arrived in India the beginning of December and one could still here the same comments. I only heard one devotee say: "What a contradiction. To be pampered by Baba and then die under such circumstances". However she didn't seem to pay much attention to what she herself was saying.


Something worth noting is the irresponsibility of those hospitals by not having the proper equipment for emergencies and not even an ambulance. Thousands arrive in Puttaparthi yearly from all over the world. Many are elderly folks and some are not in very good health.  Since it now has become quite apparent that SB is not omnipotent, as he has claimed to be, nor can he guarantee the wellbeing of his devotees, as he has also claimed, then the hospitals and specially the Super Specialities Hospital in Puttaparthi, that boasts of doing open heart surgeries, transplants, etc. ought to be better equipped in order to handle any kind of an emergency. Those traveling to Puttaparthi who are not in very good health ought to take the necessary precautions because their lives could really be in danger.

José Santiago from Venezuela