Mr. Police Officer, Are You My Friend?

By Ammi


HAVANA TIMES – Mr. Police officer, are you my friend?  That was the question on a Cuban TV ad when I was a little girl, and there were quite a few of us who wanted to wear the blue uniform proudly, which asserted an impeccable attitude.

A lot has changed over time and now I am a woman who is ashamed of the military corps that oversees authoritarian control in my country.

“The police are a security force responsible for maintaining public order and citizens’ safety by using force and it is subject to government orders. Most police forces are quasi-military organizations, whose main obligation is to dissuade and investigate crimes against people who disturb public order” (Taken from Wikipedia).

It’s sad to see how the Cuban police is one cog in the government’s repressive apparatus. Ordinary citizens feel protected when they see an officer in uniform in some parts of the world. In Cuba, it’s like seeing a spawn of the devil, many people trying to flee, terrified, as they resort to using extreme force.

Like the events that unfolded just a few days ago, when many artists and other activists went to take part in a peaceful protest. The protest was met by a police cordon and brutality, responding with repression and persecution, with the mission of curtailing and preventing the civilian act by repressing, containing, arresting or punishing, enforcing their power with violence.

The police murder of Hansel Hernandez Galiano motivated the frustrated protest.

More than fifty people were persecuted and/or arrested starting in the early morning, and all they were doing was trying to defend their political rights as stipulated in the first part of the universal declaration of human rights.

The unjust death of a young unarmed man in Guanabacoa at the hands of the police, the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, the demand that official media exposes this truth, as well as other political and social appeals motivated the call for this protest.

The demonstration did not take place. However, a step forward was made with this display of police force across the island, proving that the government feels threatened by a people who are crying out, who are rising up under a flag that waves like the feverish a rebirth of freedom.

Now, answering that question that appeared in the ad, I can say: Mr. repressor-violent-totalitarian-controlling-abusive Police officer: “NO, YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND.”

12 thoughts on “Mr. Police Officer, Are You My Friend?

  • Firstly Ken, unlike my knowledge of Cuba, I do not claim to have detailed knowledge of the politics of the US. although I have lived as a neighbour both to the north in Canada and south in Cuba, of its main territory, for many years.

    If you would like to know my conclusions about US politics, they put briefly, would be that judging by certain aspects of its culture, the US should review and revise its Constitution. Indications of that, include over 12,000 citizens being shot dead per annum, and an electoral system that leads to it’s Presidents including the incumbent, being elected on minority votes.

    However, thank you for finding my comments about Cuba persuasive even if you do not like them. That is probably because I address reality rather than pious, wishful thinking, inaccuracies.

    Obviously in your innocence or possibly political persuasion, you find criticism of “what is going on in Cuba” unpalatable. But I note that you do not deny the accuracy of my comments. That Ken, is because I know the the reality, including that the Communist Party of Cuba has an active well funded Propaganda Department, has an educational system built around indoctrination, and a State militarized police force operated by Alejandro Castro Espin of MININT, whose role is to enforce repression. if you doubt that, then you have obviously failed to read in these pages, the articles by Lynn Cruz, Osmel, Ammi and other Cubans.

    As indicated, I cannot speak fully of the US, but is it not their citizens who endeavor to dominate sports meetings by chanting; USA, USA, USA, USA, USA, USA or is that just “forced loyalty”? I notice on US TV stations, bearded Hell’s Angels bikers, white supremacists, and KKK supporters doing the same!

  • Carlyle. I see you popping up in too many responses, casting negative rhetoric about what is going on in Cuba. For many of your posts one could substitute America in place of Cuba and it would be a fitting substitute.

    There is no country on earth that waves their flag more than the US, all while they shame those who don’t. It is forced loyalty, much like you accuse Cuba of with their form of propaganda. The US has been suffering their own protests which have not be easily accepted by their police. In fact, the protests were a product of police over reach. And the government responded by sending in the militia. I think we can agree there is no utopia, but when it comes to wealth distribution, the US has little to brag about.

  • As John carefully explains, if Cubans adhere strictly to the dictate of the regime, don’t complain, and do exactly as instructed, they have less to fear from the MININT goons.

    It is only those who seek to have a better life, who seek individuality and a small degree of freedom, who wish to have freedom of expression, freedom of the media, freedom of movement, freedom to instruct ones own children as one chooses and opportunity to find sufficient food to feed those children, who are persecuted..Those are the issues in the daily lives for the majority of Cubans, and they certainly cannot and do not turn to the MININT goons for resolution as John claims.

    I have spent the majority of my time at home in Cuba with my wife, with family, friends and neighbours, but have yet to meet the “Many Cubans” to whom John refers. Anyone who knows Cuba well, knows that whereas there is much pilfering from the State, there is relatively little major crime, but Cuba has the fourth highest level of incarceration in the world. So who is in jail? I judge Cuba by the reality.

    As for “respect”, that as I have previously explained, is a demand, necessitated by the system.

  • At least in Cuba respect still exists unlike westernized societies which have become barbaric in the name of racism or social justice or these other trumped up reasons Many Cubans have told me if you don’t cause trouble you have nothing to fear from the police and Cubans rely on the police if there are any issues in their daily lives that need to be addressed Don’t judge Cuba according to the barbaric justified behaviours of countries like the USA or Canada

  • It’s a 61 year communist choke hold and counting, seemly without end.

  • Manuel E. Gutierrez omitted saying that he was referring to the US. The repressive practices of the MININT goons in Cuba – even when death is a consequence, are not being questioned by any of the authorities and as illustrated by Lynn Cruz, endeavors at any form of protest by the public are crushed.

  • Police detain and arrest practices are being questioned now after The Mr. Floyd recent incident which looked like authorized murder and probably is.

  • In Cuba it is deliberate communist regime policy to instill fear of the MININT goons into the population at large. They are the means by which the state repression is enforced.

    “goon: bully or thug, especially a member of an armed or security force.” Oxford English Dictionary

    From the state operated creches entered at eighteen months of age, through the various grades of school to the colleges and universities, the Cuban education system places emphasis upon “respect”. The purpose is to install obedience to the communist system and to discourage any questioning. Information about the behavior, activities and personal relationships of every person, are recorded by the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution on every block of every community in Cuba and forwarded to the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) regularly. MININT then maintains a computerized record of every citizen, from infancy to death.

    The insistence upon “respect” was emphasized by Raul Castro:

    “One must take into account that the family and school must instill respect for the rules of society, from early childhood.”

    7th July, 2013

    Readers should note “must” and also that the “rules of society” are those imposed by the communist dictatorship.

  • Policing is a major controversial issue today whether one lives in Cuba, United States, Canada or elsewhere. The reasons why depend where one lives.

    Apparently from the news reports, and here Cuba may stand out of the main stream because of its censored news, police forces in many jurisdictions have been practicing racism for many, many years and allowed to get away with it.

    Of course the prime example being cited in the news worldwide is the sad and tragic situation regarding George Floyd, the black man, kneeled to death by white Minneapolis police officers. The consequences of that situation has sparked extraordinary outrage, and that is an understatement, through out the world and has allowed the Minneapolis city council to outright disband the entire police force.

    Many police services, or “forces”, however they may be called, are undergoing a major review by city politicians whereby their budgets are being scrutinized for the amount of money they receive from the taxpayer to do forms of “policing” that may be out of their realm – social work being a prime example.

    I suppose in Cuba as anywhere else when the police are called to a disturbance, an altercation, a potential crime, a demonstration, the police have been trained to use absolute force if necessary but not force where the situation does not warrant. This is where the conundrum occurs. When is appropriate force required and when is it not? Unfortunately, in many police situations, and as Ammi has pointed out in Cuba, the police use lethal, brutal force when it isn’t necessary and a more calming approach, perhaps some form of social work, could better ameliorate the situation.

    Therefore, if social workers can fulfill some of the present day policing tasks there is a definite need to reduce police budgets and allocate those funds to other social work professionals who have been trained to enter volatile situations and administer social work practices to ensure the situation is subdued and lawless individuals are duly incarcerated, if required, but not physically harmed, in some instances to the point of death.

    We all know Cuba is not going to go down this route any time soon. The country is a totalitarian police state ruled by “military” police trained to put down any inkling of insurrection (even a peaceful protest) hence brutal force is modus operandi – period. Sad.

    Nevertheless, one day(?) when the country wants to move towards a more liberal, humanitarian, democratic environment the present method of policing like all other jurisdictions will need to be reassessed to be more in line of maintaining public order and citizens’ safety rather than having, as Ammi put it “… repressor-violent-totalitarian-controlling-abusive Police officer.”

  • I so know about what you say. In 1985 I accepted an offer to work at our local city hall – receptionist and water bill collector. I was 49 years age and, like you, had considered the police a ‘safe’ call. Then I saw the budget allowance for their service and watched the local officials keel over when the police chief spoke or requested funds – no questions nor objections. Then, sitting at the front desk one day, I heard the police chief say: “I just told the Mayor we were keeping this city lily-white.” I was in shock. This changed my view of leadership greatly!!!

  • The significant difference, is whether a society has a Police Service or a Police Force. Back in 1829, following the establishment of the Metropolitan Police in London by Sir Robert Peel, nine principles were established for the role to be performed. Those principles are still valid and necessary.

    Quite clearly, military are established when required by politicians, to use force. Cuba does not have a police service, the MININT goons are a militarized force controlled by Raul Castro’s military son Alejandro Castro Espin.

  • Ammi… right on again……..keep writing about what is really going on in Cuba.

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