Street Tragedies in Havana

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Parque Curita, Centro Habana.  Photo: Juan Suárez
Parque Curita, Centro Habana. Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES  — “You son of a bitch!” the young man yells, lunging at the other fellow at the crowded bus stop.

“You’re the one who’s been peeping at my wife through the bathroom window for days now!”

He raises a fist, ready to pound the other man’s face with all his pent-up fury, while the shocked onlookers yell at him to stop. He doesn’t punch him.

“If you bother her again, I’ll break you in two!” he screams at him in his ear.

“Your wife told me the time she always showers at,” the peeping-tom replies, afraid, a total wreck.

A nervous old woman, her blood pressure visibly high, tears running down her cheeks, says to them:

“Please, let it go, both of ya! These are no times for brawling. Shame on you!”

There is an atmosphere of imminent tragedy. As more and more people intervene to try and separate the two men, the situation appears to worsen.

“Anyone with a cell phone, call the police,” someone in the throng of men trying to tear the two apart suggests.

Seeing that, I walk away. Before the whole scene, my neighbors had told me to watch and not to intervene.

Someone’s called the police, for a police siren can be heard in the distance. The two men get to their feet.

“Let go of us, nothing’s happened here.” one of them says, brushing off the dirt on his clothes.

“Let’s get out of here, bro, the police are coming and they’re going to put us away.”

Everyone was left speechless, seeing the two young men walk away with their arms over each other’s shoulders, as though nothing had just happened, after making such a huge scene.

“One day they’ll get into real trouble and no one will step in to help them,” said the woman who’d worked herself up over the fight.

One doesn’t often see these kinds of scenes on the street, but Esnel and Alejandro, two brothers who moved from Cuba’s east-laying province of Granma to Havana some years ago, are very creative and enjoy staging these “improvs” in public.

When with them, Daisy, their mother, helps out with screams, trying to separate them or supposedly going off to call the police (which always arrive an hour later). This, I believe, is the reason behind the success of their scenes.

One thought on “Street Tragedies in Havana

  • A very interesting story! These brothers stage improvised scenes in public spaces, small sketches reminiscent of the ever popular telenovelas. Art imitates life and life imitates art. It must be more entertaining for the other people on the bus than reading Granma.

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