Jimmy Roque Martinez

Elderly. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — On Tulipan Street in Havana’s Revolution Square municipality, just like in nearly every other neighborhood in the country, some people usually come out and sell their goods. Normally, these are industrial and/or handmade products, and the people who selling them are people aged 65 and older, many of them already retired.

I’ve seen police officers along with State inspectors fine these street sellers on many occasions, and there’s almost always one policeman in particular who stands with his chest pushed out and looks threatening.

On Tuesday August 2, I was witness to how this police officer, this time dressed as a civilian, along with two inspectors, fined an old woman. A few minutes later, they took all her goods to the police truck that was parked nearby.

That was when I went up to them and asked where they would take these products that they’d confiscated from the street sellers who they’d just fined.

Of course, the policeman dressed as a civilian asked me who I was, before answering that these products were stored in the inspectors’ warehouse (located in Mulgoba) and would then be restocked at State shops and markets, depending on the product in question.

I then asked whether it would be possible to verify that this mechanism works as it should, as its common knowledge that police and inspectors take a lot of confiscated goods for themselves a lot of the time.

The policeman dressed as a civilian told me that he didn’t have to give me any explanations, that he only has to answer to the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and to State Security, trying to void my right to question his authority.

During our conversation, the policeman showed me his identification to prove to me that he was indeed a policeman, while the women with him also identified themselves as inspectors.

Every public authority should have to give an explanation to any Cuban citizen when they ask for it; but we already know that talking about rights in Cuba is too suspicious.

Elderly selling whatever. Photo: Juan Suarez

If we were really living in a socialist country, and if our means of production really belonged to the Cuban people, then they would be forced to give explanations about their work; but because this isn’t the case, the only thing that’s being encouraged here is more widespread corruption.

It’s a well-known fact that salaries in Cuba don’t give us enough to live comfortably, and that pensions are miserable [the equivalent of $8 to 12 USD), while the cost of living increases day after day.

One of the causes for this (amongst many others) is that the State has to maintain an extremely large army and police force, without having a real job to do.  They are used instead to confiscate matchboxes and cigarette packs off of old ladies in our city’s streets for lack of military manouevres.

We need to fight for our civil rights and for citizen control so that we can put a stop to the corruption and privilege of our military and Cuban political elite.

Jimmy Roque Martinez

Jimmy Roque Martinez: I was born in Havana in 1979, and it seems that work has been my sign. Custodian, fish farmer, lens carver, welder, glass maker, optometrist, have been some of my trades. But none consumes as much of my time as caring for my family. For many years I’ve faced the least pretty face of this society, and I try to be happy while I transform it. I am too shy. I like silence, sleep, theater and movies. I hate injustice and arrogance, and I can hardly contain my anger when it happens in front of me.

5 thoughts on “Cuba, Pensioners and Respect for the Law

  • Many people from Canada have invested in micro loans in Cuba, The government in Cuba makes very hard to get permission to get enough of certain items like batteries seeds hand tools small diesel tractors and food processing and refrigeration equipment stephenwwebster61@gmail.com

  • Thanks for keeping me up to date! Surprising that one so comparatively young (76) should retire.

  • So, is he now living on the standard $8-12 U.S. equivalent? I wonder.

  • The State controls at all levels of Cuban society.

    “Ours is not to question why
    Ours is but to do or die”

    MININT is the real ‘security’ power in Cuba. The Minister of the Interior is General Abelerado Coloma Ibarra, but the Head of Security is General Alejandro Castro Espin, Raul Castro’s son. The people mentioned in Jimmy Roque Martinez’s article are under the control of Alejandro Castro Espin. MININT provides high quality accommodation for MININT employees who are granted privileges, thus retaining their loyalty to the system and to Alejandro. If practiced by a private company, such favours would be defined as ‘corruption’ but when practiced by MININT they are acceptable.

    Persecution of the type described by Jimmy is commonplace being a method of instilling both fear and caution in the population. There is nothing new this type of action in communist regimes. Stalin practiced it with the GRU, East Germany had the Stasi, Cuba has the CDR and so on. All are based upon the original national socialist concept introduced by Adolf Hitler just as the Castro regime also copied Hitler’s Department of Propaganda headed by Goebbels.

    Totalitarian regimes commonly copy others and Castro regime is a perfect example. All the policies are directed at maintaining power and control over the subjugated people.

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