Havana’s Watching You

Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez

Havana Heights.  Photo: Caridad
Havana Heights. Photo: Caridad

Havana’s urban landscape has been invaded by new residents: high-tech street surveillance cameras.  These magic eyes are located on the four corners of key locations and intersections, at tunnel entrances and around bridges.

The deterioration of Havana can now be recorded by these unusual onlookers that observe the movement of pedestrians second by second.

In my opinion, the decision by the state to conduct this form of surveillance has taken things to the extreme.  What’s worse, Havana residents continue to feel unprotected.

I can say this because I’ve seen acts of disorderly conduct and vandalism committed directly under those surveillance cameras and the police fail to ever respond.

On Linea and 18th Street, for example, every week I observe youth coming out of the disco to block the path of buses with garbage cans.  They commandeer the vehicles to stop and then board them like 16th century pirates.

If a bus doesn’t stop, the surveillance cameras around the Linea Street tunnel simply monitor these same kids who erected the garbage barricade walk through this underpass reserved for vehicles only.

While the new electronic residents of Havana seem non-existent on Linea Street on the weekends, during the recent November 6 “March for Nonviolence” they were key to maintaining a fixed and focused eye on the demonstrators, who presented no threat at all to the public.