Mashenka’s Eyes

Irina Echarry

Havana domino game. Photo: Michael Roy

Previously it was the name of a Russian cartoon for children, but now the tender Mashenka (which has been set up to observe everything) has been transformed only into eyes and has acquired the gift of ubiquitousness.

Many of us in the capital have gotten ahold (through flash drives) of a video from a camera placed in front of the bus stop at the intersection of Jesús Peregrino and Belascoain streets; at this site is one of Mashenka’s eyes.

The video is not new, it’s more than a year old, but it could have been filmed yesterday.  These recordings are passed from hand to hand after being recorded on cameras that are constantly set up in different points of Havana.

Some more current than others allow one to discover two things: the first and most insulting is the violence committed by police against women and men all ages, and the second is that whoever decided to steal the recording seeks to dencounce such violence.

The video in question shows a group of guys sitting around drinking on the bench at the bus stop.  There are men without shirts on but who are carrying backpacks (I’m providing this information because on occasion the looks of police veer toward such points and at anyone who walks around carrying anything; the police typically will then stop them to check through what they have).

In the video, suddenly the camera zoom captures two women kissing and the seated men laughing at the pair.  Other pedestrians, sunk in the vortex of daily routines, don’t seem to notice the goings on.  Only Mashenka sees it and informs us that the police have been called in to immediately take care of the situation.

Filmed in real time, things get a little monotonous because it’s slow and there’s no audio.  However, we finally see the police show up and, after returning the ID cards to all those who were in the group, they only take away the two women.

One’s blood begins to boil

The law officers are able to talk one of the women into getting inside the police cruiser, but the other has to be “convinced” by force.  You then see five uniformed men pushing, pulling hair and generally abusing that one woman.  Eventually they’re able to get her in the car and they all leave.

The images are interrupted several times by traffic, like a P-6 bus that prevents us from seeing some of the details of the young woman’s entry into the car.

Those who up until that moment had been sharing the bottle of rum didn’t move; they didn’t open their mouths, not a word.  Their inaction in the face of violence was disgraceful.  But what was more shameful was that the acts of violence were committed by the very ones who are supposed to thwart them.  The aggressiveness was unnecessary.

I’m not a person to make judgments about things I don’t know about, but the video ignited rage in me, and I don’t feel that very often.  For that reason I need to speak out against the attitudes and actions of those who (we imagine) are supposed to protect us.

If anything good came from this, it’s that Machenka not only aims to see from above but it also looks within, and that there are people interested in revealing what it witnesses.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

18 thoughts on “Mashenka’s Eyes

  • June 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    ‘So Luis you think you can learn nothing from the experience of Cuba?’
    ‘Do you wish for your country something like that?’
    ‘(..) do you think I do not have the same rights that you do just because I do not think like you?’

    Now you are putting words in my mouth and thoughts in my mind. Great. Just great.

    I said I was sorry to you but now I regret those words.
    It’s useless to even try to discuss anything with you.

  • June 28, 2010 at 2:44 am

    So Luis you think you can learn nothing from the experience of Cuba?

    I hope if not you maybe others of your compatriots can. I know that many Cubans that supported the Cuban revolution from the beginning now are repenting. I do understand them since they never got what was promise!

    And when they try to change things was already to late. Some one in Cuba had grown so enamored with the Honey of Power that will do anything necessary to try to keep things that way.

    Do you wish for your country something like that?
    But no matter.
    Democracy will return to Cuba eventually that day is coming closer and closer.
    One day Cuba will not be anymore the personal property of a family clan.
    It will be the day when the streets of Cuba will be for Cubans nothing else and nothing more!

    On the other hand Luis I think you do have the right to express what you feel and what you think so tell me do you think I do not have the same rights that you do just because I do not think like you?

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