Getting Your Adrenaline Pumping

Dariela Aquique

Santiago de Cuba

As everyone knows, the press in Cuba lacks many freedoms.  In its wide zones of silence is included the “red chronicles,” those daily tragedies, crimes and obituaries in which death is a common denominator that orchestrates the drama of these convulsive times.

It’s also known here that one of the maxims in the politics of our country is to always sell the image of a great paradise where nothing terrible ever happens.  It’s as if acts of violence didn’t occur, as if we didn’t have psychopaths, as if our streets were the safest in the world (as has been said an infinite number of times).

It is no less true that our statistics in terms of criminal acts are fairly low in relation to the rest of the world; nevertheless this doesn’t mean that unlawful acts don’t happen.

In Cuba, red chronicles are considered part of the sensationalist press typical of consumer societies; therefore information regarding such acts here are extremely restricted and fairly watered down when the authorities decide to make them known.

This state of disinformation makes life fairly chaotic for the public because we’re never really sure about what’s happening.

A few months ago in the city of Santiago de Cuba, a rumor was circulating about a band of criminals nicknamed “The 300,” taking their name from an action movie.

From word of mouth, tales of this gang traveled as people talked about its murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries and holdups.

Cubans are given to fabricating stories, so we’re never sure about how much is true or exaggerated in what people say about terrifying events.  What can indeed be verified though is that the numbers of these types of crimes in the city is quite alarming and that they’re centered in outlying neighborhoods such as Nuevo Vista Alegre, Aguero and Indaya.

I live relatively close to these areas and it worries me greatly that I’m unaware of the details of what’s going on:

– Have they already captured some of these gangsters?

– Are the crimes they comment really as horrific as people say?

– How great is the danger to which we’re exposed?

I’ll never know accurately.  I read the newspaper and I listen to the local radio stations, but nothing is mentioned about these things.  The news is really very comforting, and — by the way — quite sensationalist (with announcements like “production plans have been fulfilled,” “the economy is improving,” “we’re advancing rapidly towards becoming a model society”).

Paradoxically, when I go out on the streets at night in my “safe and prosperous” city, I can’t avoid it – it gets my adrenaline pumping!