By Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES – Lockdown during this COVID-19 outbreak drives young people crazy, as if they were under house arrest. Movement is in their nature, so they need to exercise, play sports to release some of that pent-up energy.
Where I live, in La Puntilla, Miramar, some kids break social distancing regulations and dare to swim in the sea.
Yesterday, eight young people were arrested for playing soccer on B Street, between 1st and 3rd streets, in an empty space next to the shopping mall.
It all happened so suddenly: a police car drove up, a female police officer got out and called for back-up. A few minutes later, there were three patrol cars. It was a swift operation: several police officers cuffed the players, even people who were only watching.
Not a single resident went to the trouble of stepping in, to explain that these kids are from the neighborhood and have never committed crimes in the past.
The reality is that they were taken away to the 62nd Street police station as if they were criminals.
There, police officers didn’t treat them well, and every time one of them tried to speak, a police officer would shout: shut up!
Two of the arrested kids are brothers. One of them made quite a bit of noise when being arrested and was locked up in a cell. His brother asked to be taken with him, to keep him company.
Some people said that they weren’t even playing, that this was all a great injustice. However, the police officer replied that they would also be fined, just for being near the others. As the saying goes: “The good are punished along with the bad.”
Even though it was a serious moment, the boys found a way to have fun: they joked about, laughing under their breath, about the jurassic computer the guard on call was using, about how slow it was for him to get into the database and get their ID card information, as only one of the kids in the group had been carrying his with him.
In the end, they were each given a 300 peso ($12 USD) fine, for breaking health measures under lockdown, as it is forbidden for more than three people meet out on the street. In spite of them all wearing a mask.
A little later, the brothers’ father came to pick them up and was horrified when he found out that he would have to pay two fines, that is to say, 600 pesos, arguing that he had no idea how he would get this money now that him and their mother weren’t working.
Two hours later, they were all released. They all had to walk home, of course.
It would have been better for the police to have given a warning, and not the abusive sanction for kids who still don’t work. It’s their parents who have to take on this responsibility.
Most Cuban families are in a tough situation right now, because of shortages of food and personal hygiene items, and on top of that, they have to dish out money on unnecessary fines.
There are good, bad, and even corrupt police, but them using their power arbitrarily is really the lowest of blows.