HAVANA TIMES, Dec 27 — I’m going to have to subscribe to Cuba’s official Granma newspaper, because it makes me think, look for information, laugh and cry.
On December 19, it published an anonymously written article with the sensational title “Crime Increasing Among US Youth.” This article stated that a third of the young people in that country had been arrested at some time, according to a study published in the New York Times.
The people at Granma must have a lot of nerve. Arrests? So what! I’m going to do a quick tabulation: I live in a building of military families in a relatively good neighborhood. Of the 37 males born here, 12 (or 32 percent) have not only been arrested, but are serving long prison terms.
Does that sound like a lot? Right next door to me lives a bus driver whose kids have broken all of our justice system records. “Tales of the tank” (jailhouse anecdotes) are a prolific genre in our community.
But I don’t pay too much attention to any of that; one block doesn’t necessarily represent a nation. Let’s go to the official statistics to see what they say. What do the official figures say about the prison population in Cuba?
I can’t say because I don’t know. I’ve researched it but I haven’t found any information. The National Statistics Office (ONE) says nothing about it. There are a few pages that explain the Cuban prison system in detail and its many accomplishments – but no figures.
The only statistics I could find came from “enemy” sources (the World Prison Population List, published by the International Centre for Prison Studies and updated through 2008).
According to the study, Cuba had 531 people in prison per every 100,000 inhabitants, ranking fifth in a list led by the US. The data of the prison population here on the island was not supplied by the government of “our” country, which in the style of North Korea denies access to that information.
But let’s say the figures are indeed distorted, and that we’re not in fifth place but in fiftieth. This would still be alarming; worthy of the media making this information public and for a national debate around the issue.
However the Communist Party Central Committee chooses to divert attention by firing derringers at the empire, while our roofs are falling down on top of us. Sure, they’re not falling down on them.