On Appearances and Pedophilia

Irina Pino

Kids in the Plaza San Francisco in Old Havana.
Kids in the Plaza San Francisco in Old Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — The Austrian film Michael, telling the story of a pedophile, was recently aired on Cuba’s La septima puerta (“The Seventh Door”). I must say I had no interest in watching this film. The issue is repulsive and hard to swallow, but the critic’s introduction persuaded me to see the film.

He explained that the reason he chose the film was to warn people not to neglect their children, to open their eyes to the realities of the world and encourage them to be distrustful of strangers. To my relief, the director did not rely on violent scenes to tell the story, employing indirect suggestions to avoid explicit depictions (demonstration that much can be said with little).

The pervert had kidnapped a child and established a mechanism for the two to live together. Though deceitful, this mechanism worked: he would feed the child and buy him toys, taking him out on occasion. That said, to enslave someone, particularly a minor, and subject them to the horrors of sexual abuse, is unforgivable.

No one ever suspected this man. To his family and friends, he was a good, law-abiding citizen. Appearances are deceitful: anyone can be a brutal murderer, at least potentially.

The film brought to mind a man who lived in my old neighborhood, a man who was attracted by teenagers. The guy was like the fellow in the film: a polite person. Unlike the film character, this man had a wife and daughter but was divorced and lived alone. His family would only come to visit him for short periods of time.

A black belt in karate, he would draw teenagers in to teach them martial arts for free. He traveled a lot and had a high standard of living. He owned sophisticated electronic appliances and had a lot of money. He would take advantage of those means to organize parties and invite young men over. He would invite them to watch films and prepare exquisite meals for them.

The young men who visited him would tell that, on occasion, he would put on pornographic films to arouse them. Many of them only went to see what they could scrounge off the man and would leave when hardcore scenes came on (nearly no one stayed till the end).

The man’s reputation began to be questioned around the block, but he was never reported to the police. The man had a powerful brother.

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.