Cuba’s Inept Police

Irina Pino

Police asking for ID on the San Rafael pedestrian zone in Centro Habana.

HAVANA TIMES — Years ago, someone broke into my home in Vedado. I’ll give you a short version of the story.

It was the early morning and the entire family was sleeping. I recall it was a very hot summer and that we used to sleep with the windows open – the mistake we would later regret.

There was deathly silence. Suddenly, I woke up, as I’d heard the noise of something falling to the ground, a struggle and, finally, a scream. I got up, almost jumping out of bed, and headed to the next room, where the noise had come from. The whole family had gathered in my sister’s room, which she shared with her husband and daughter, a 3-year-old girl who still slept in a cradle. My brother-in-law had a bit of blood on his forehead and a nasty bruise soon developed there.

He told us that the sound of steps and faint noises, as though made by someone searching his room, had woken him up. He had opened his eyes slowly and seen a man who told him to be quiet, taking a finger to his lips. When he sat up in bed, the man hit him on the head with a blunt object. The man had entered the house through the window to the terrace. After hitting him, he fled, leaving through the front door and down the main steps of the building.

It had all happened very quickly and he’d only been able to make out that the man was thin and short – a description that fit the next door neighbor’s most recent boyfriend, who had the reputation of being a delinquent.

In the morning, my brother-in-law headed to the police station to make his report. Two police officers came to the house and asked us several questions, but, as the burglar hadn’t managed to steal anything, they told us there was no case and, as such, didn’t bring the dogs over or took any prints, even though some had been left on the door knob.

The burglar had hit my brother-in-law with the handle of our kitchen knife which he took with him while fleeing. There had been a breaking and entering and assault, but the police felt the incident didn’t merit a police investigation.

Another incident involved my son’s PlayStation. Some kids from the neighborhood came over and asked to borrow it for a few hours. They came with a young man who claimed to be a friend of theirs. They left to play at someone else’s home. My son came home at 7 at night, having been promised that they’d return the PlayStation at 9. The other two kids had stayed to continue playing, until the stranger had offered to take back the console. Of course, he never did. Later, we learned he had lied to them, telling them he was from the neighborhood.

We reported this to the police, after waiting two long hours at the station. An officer took my husband’s statement (writing the console’s name wrong, as “PleyTencho”). He explained the crime was known as an “unlawful retention.” Of course, to me it was plain old theft. The officer-secretary gave me a nasty look and told me to wait outside, as if I were the thief.

The officer gave us a copy of the report and the policeman on duty told us an investigator would be assigned to the case. He would be in charge of taking statements from each of the kids involved.

It’s been over a week and the investigator hasn’t even been around, hasn’t even gone to the trouble of making a phone call.

The young delinquent will continue lying and stealing other people’s video-game consoles, while the police consolidates its reputation of ineptness.



Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

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2 thoughts on “Cuba’s Inept Police

  • Here in Canada, police also do not take seriously the minor kind of thefts. However, now small video cameras are everywhere and they record all activities. I am sure Cuba will also be getting these kind of cameras as they are inexpensive. They certainly have reduced the need for police and have overall made crime decrease.

  • Nothing new here, they are only concerned as far as I feel with “keeping domestic tranquility”, one hell of a way to express it!! Years back and subsequent to the burial of an uncle in Rodas two individuals broke into my aunt’s house where she lived with her brother whom she had jus buried, both in their 80s at night. They proceeded to tie her and beat her over and over again asking for “where the money was”. there was no money and they took off with an old painting from the dining room. The local police was called in, the investigators from Cienfuegos came in, etc., etc. Prints were taken, the “rejas” that they took down to enter the house through a back window was taken also to Cienfuegos, the name of at least one possible suspect was rendered and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED SINCE!! Oh, I am sorry, yes. What has happened since is that my aunt has remained totally in shock, hardly wants to get up and when she does she is afraid to leave her room. She was totally incapacitated mentally and to a great degree physically as she has never been able to walk. Yes, the police does a great job!!

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