HAVANA TIMES, Jan 16 — Yesterday, in the midst of the tumult of trying to get on the bus, a friend who was with me was hemmed in by two pickpockets set on stealing her camera.
She managed to fend off the assault by clutching the small apparatus and staring squarely into the eyes of one of them with a menacing stare. Realizing he had been discovered, the one guy signaled to his partner and the two disappeared into the crowd.
Once the crowded bus got going, my friend told me what had just happened. But since there was no lack of other people standing there listening to her story, some of them chimed in – expressing their own opinions about the need to condemn such acts and so on.
As is usual among Cubans, the dialogue went beyond the limits of a chat between two people to turn into a virtual forum between a bunch of strangers who were arguing, questioning and adding other anecdotes similar to the initial incident.
Among all the ruckus, a few controversial comments emerged:
“With all this crime and lawlessness and the government handing out pardons?”
“Just look, with weak laws and people commuting sentences, crime has free reign.”
“Over 2,900 convicts let out onto the streets and the government is saying that it’s going to do this every year?”
“It’s so they can look good in front of the Catholic Church, now that the Pope’s coming.”
“The problem is that the prisons are full and there’s no food for them in there.”
These were some of the many comments about the robbery attempt by two thugs and its relation to the benevolent position recently adopted by the authorities.
I have my own personal opinion, and I can’t deny that I felt a certain pleasure to discover that several people shared it, because a consensus of feelings is what has been lacking in this society, also missing has been the right to express one’s thoughts freely and fully.
Like I have said in previous posts, I consider this act of political generosity to be nothing more than part of a well-designed maneuver to win back lost affections.
What came to my mind was a phrase very similar to one I heard from my history teacher back in my high school years.
I remember everyone talking in class about how as a result of a general amnesty granted by the government of dictator Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro and his comrades were released from prison on May 15, 1955. They left for Mexico but with the idea of returning to continue the armed struggle.
I was the one who asked our teacher how could a bloodthirsty tyrant grant an amnesty that included prisoners who had tried to overthrow him from power.
Our instructor’s response was: “Batista didn’t have an alternative. He was faced with such a high degree of unpopularity that the pardon couldn’t be described as anything else but strategic indulgence.”
From this I came to understand that, relatively speaking, governments outline their maneuvers according to the social situation at the moment.
Batista was threatened with being overthrown, therefore the granting of amnesty was nothing more than a means to clean up his image before the people.
Now all of us Cubans are threatened with becoming victims of criminal acts because of a pardon granted by our government, which is also trying to clean up its image before the world.