Havana Punks Released, but…

By Isbel Diaz Torres

Photo: baracutey.com

HAVANA TIMES — Early Monday morning, the group of eight teenagers and a minor, who had been arbitrarily arrested by Cuban police on Friday April 6th, were released.

Even though the police told relatives that they would be sentenced to prison for up to four years, or that they would receive a hefty 2500 peso fine (like what has happened in other cases), all of them have individually received a Warning Letter.

This is typical of the Cuban police’s modus operandi, who, all too often, don’t give reliable information about where the arrested are or the real charges and reasons for the arrest.

When it came to the Havana punks, institutional discrimination towards this social group are also added to the list.

They almost didn’t allow the teenagers to have any visits. After their mothers and fathers discovered, on their own, where their children were being wrongfully held behind bars, guards only gave them 5 minutes to see their parents and eat what they had brought them. Many of them didn’t even manage to finish their meal in such a short space of time.

Of course, I don’t believe in the popular adage that the police is there to enforce the law. There have been too many examples in the past of how these repressive forces violate current legislation, ignore the law and implement unjust punishments at their own discretion completely; sometimes giving in to their personal judgement and prejudices.

In this case, the punks affected need to make a legal complaint against the Warning Letter they were forced to sign, as this is just the kind of criminal record that will justify the police’s future scuffles with this group of uneasy, radical and critical teenagers.

Violating the just legal process is the norm in this Cuban institution and we outcasts are their main victims: punks, radicalized people, gays, transsexuals, political dissidents, anarchists, Human Rights advocates; basically anyone who just by breathing puts into question the idyllic image of this fed-up and backwards society.

I know that some people in Cuba would prefer this event to remain an anecdote and that sweeping statements aren’t made about our institutions. Many activists even prefer this way: to yank the chain, but not to poke the bear directly.

However, it’s our civic responsibility to denounce the rotting state that Cuban institutions are in. Arbitrary actions that influence all kinds of decisions at every level; given the fact that this decay is also unfortunately reflected in our families, in our neighborhoods.

That’s when we have to sit and put up with those cheap reports on national TV blaming social (and even “popular”) indiscipline, ignoring the massive fact that the one to infringe the laws the most is the Government itself, who people use as an example.

Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.