Havana Neighborhoods with Poor Street Lighting Face Spike in Crime

Miguel Arias Sanchez

The criminals take advantage of the dark in areas where people frequently walk day and night.

HAVANA TIMES – Robberies here are becoming more and more frequent, and sometimes have fatal consequences. Luckily for us, the vast majority of Cubans are honest, hard-working and good-hearted people. However, there are other people who aren’t like this at all and want everything, or almost everything, without working and earning it with their daily sweat and sacrifice.

Some people blame it on need, but we’d have to add other things such as negligence, indifference and even a lack of awareness of some people who have a job to do. For example, Tres Picos hill, which leads down from Villa Panamericana to the Bahia neighborhood, is a favorite haunt for misdeeds.

This stretch has become really dangerous, especially at night, as there is practically no street lighting, only one bulb half-way down; there are streetlights, but their bulbs have fused. 

Trees are becoming more and more leafy and darkness invades every space. A week ago, a friend was walking home with his wife from the club in Villa, it was 2 AM. Half-way down the road, three individuals, armed with knives, jumped out of a tree and demanded that they throw everything they were carrying onto the ground: watches, cellphones, wallets. My friend and his wife didn’t resist, of course. In fact, they even asked their attackers if they wanted their clothes too. They didn’t have to strip down, luckily.

It has become a den of thieves, especially on the weekend, carrying out their evil acts protected by this deserted place.

A resident in the area explained that there had been several meetings with government representatives, and they had always said that places like this one, where so many men, women and old people etc. walk, can’t be left in the dark; after 8 PM, you can’t even see the palm of your hand.

I wonder:

The street lights are there but they are without bulbs.

What is going on with this country’s body who is responsible for street lighting here, where you’d only have to change a few bulbs?

Who is responsible for pruning these trees?

The neighbors are scared and want this place to be safe.

So, I ask:

If they aware of the situation, why are they letting so much time pass by? Isn’t it better to prevent rapes, scares and robberies?

Isn’t it easier, more intelligent and humane to light an area so people can see where they walking and who they are bumping into?

Or is it a question of people responsible and their families not ever walking there?

We’ll have to wait for someone with sense and awareness to listen to the local community and make the right decision.


Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.

20 thoughts on “Havana Neighborhoods with Poor Street Lighting Face Spike in Crime

  • June 19, 2019 at 10:51 am

    So Nick, as you refer to those of the far right as “Extremists” do you apply the same term to those “very decent and sincere supporters of the PCC” with their “ideological certainties” ? Or are “Extremists” only a syndrome of the right?
    With communism and fascism, dictatorship is a fact. With capitalism – as demonstrated perhaps uniquely, by Donald Trump with his obvious envy of Kim Jung Un, Vladamir Putin et al, it is merely an ambition.

  • June 17, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    If you know Austria, you will know that the Capitalists and the Far Right Extremists haul themselves up to a position of power by means of what you would describe as ‘free and fair elections’. Once these ‘free and fair elections’ are over and done with, the Capitalist Politicians and the Far Right Extremist Politicians collude (as is their custom when they deem it to be in their mutual interests – history is littered with examples of this).

    Although I disagree with you Mr MacD, it is obviously nothing personal and I do respect your ideological certainties.
    I know some very decent and sincere supporters of the ‘Partido Comunista de Cuba’ who similarly have ideological certainties and I respect them and their views also.

    But Mr MacD, would you actually be suggesting that Capitalism has no dictatorial aspects ?

  • June 17, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Freedom is a reality Nick – you are able to use yours to write here and express your views, In Cuba expressing views that are critical of the communist regime lands people in jail – hence that high level of incarceration. My opinion is that capitalism, democracy and freedom are far preferable to communism (now termed socialism). Talking of trinity, how about Marx, Engel and Lenin as the Unholy Trinity – or if you prefer, Fidel, Raul and Che? Although knowing Austria fairly well, they are not my politicians – and you forget that unlike yourself, I condemn dictatorship of both left and right.

  • June 15, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Mr MacD, At last you admit to the facts regarding Cuba’s street crime in comparison to many of its capitalist neighbours. Good stuff. There is hope yet…..
    Freedom is a word with many uses and meanings. For example The Freedom Party of Austria was set up by a former member of the SS.
    This far right political party has been in coalition governments with your politicians who advocate your beloved capitalism.
    The particular point of view which you subscribe to seems to equate capitalism, democracy and freedom as if this represents some kind of glorious trinity of virtue.

    In reality freedom is a word very often used by ideologues of different stripes. It was always one of Fidel Castro’s favourite words.

    But if freedoms good enough for you Mr MacD, then be sure to say hi to Bobby McGee from me…….

  • June 15, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Street crime in Cuba is less common than in the US and the murder rate is very much lower than the neighboring Latin American countries which compete for being worst – even worse than the US – see the statistics. But that Nick does not explain why it is that Cuba has that very high level of incarceration – if those in jail are not criminals, why are they there?
    My “ideological bias” is that I support freedom of the individual rather than totalitarian dictatorships which deny their citizens such rights. I find no reason for being pragmatic about that. I am opposed to dictatorship whether it be of the left or the right. There is no grey area Nick between the two views – that in favour of freedom and that of repressive totalitarian dictate.
    The “ideology” I favour is freedom, and there is a much higher level of it in the capitalist countries than in any others – specifically communist ones (or should I now term communism as socialism?).
    If your perch on the pragmatic fence gets too uncomfortable Nick, which side would you select to fall upon? Unlike Cubans, you still have a choice!

  • June 15, 2019 at 9:18 am

    The only rule I follow is that of the pragmatist.
    Unlike your good self Mr MacD, I am not an advocate for any ideology.
    I feel sure that the capitalist countries which are in Cuba’s vicinity have certain undoubted advantages.
    But the fact remains that, in terms of street crime, Cuba is generally a much more peaceful country than its capitalist neighbours.
    Due to your clear ideological bias you refuse to admit this blatant fact.
    But hey, ideological bias is not unique to you Mr MacD.

  • June 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Obviously Nick you have yet to comprehend that your mind is in itself the ideological filter – “as I see it”.

  • June 13, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Mr MacD,
    Cuba is undoubtably a fairly peaceful place. This is blindly obvious to anyone who has spent any length of time there.
    If it was as dangerous as some of its capitalist neighbours, you simply would not spend eight months a year there.
    If you think that this makes me a sympathiser of whatever, that’s ok with me.
    In fact I find such remarks laughable.
    I merely speak the truth as I see it and do not speak it through any ideological filter…….

  • June 13, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Don’t forget Puerto Rico without electricity for months, they been American for a hundred years, had that happened in Cuba, is the revolution’s fault. Plus all the dead people, there’s never been nearly that many casualties in Cuba. As far as the fusilados, or ,dead by firing squad , am sure they done some thing.

  • June 12, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    I generally agree with Carlyle’s comments because I believe that we share similar perspectives. That is to say that you can at the same time be intensely critical of the tyrannical Castro dictatorship and the dilapidated state of the Cuban economy while being totally in support of the Cuban people. Carlyle seems to enjoy his Cuban family and friends and his comments reflect the good and the nonsensical aspects of Cuban life. Like Carlyle, I believe that there are many realities of Cuban daily life that are caused by Cuban incompetence or malfeasance. Food shortages are a frequent problem in Cuba. The US embargo which excludes food has little or nothing to do with these shortages. Poor agricultural output is also a Cuban problem. I too am married to a Cuban from Guantanamo and while I don’t live in Cuba, I have visited more times than I can remember. I think that Carlyle is simply being honest about views of the island. For some that kind of honesty is confusing.

  • June 12, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    I Do Think the Act of Muggings has been on the rise & will Continue to Rise as this Next Special Period Continues with Shortages of Food & Services & I do Think Cuban Police Services are Now Out Numbered & could Lose there Fight for our Safety if Not given Support by there Public. Not Just in Havana, include all of Cuba. Violent Crime for Personal Gain is a Strong Motivator when your Hungry & There are other,s with much more in there Pockets. When a Tourist becomes friends of a Cuban Family & that Tourist can Not possibly provide for all of Cuba, What Problems Have we Canadians unknowingly invented in Cuban Society I Now ask myself, The Dark Streets Of Cuba are Growing.

  • June 11, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Nick, if you care to read the contribution of Manual E, Gutierriez directly above my own, you will find his comment about humanity to which I responded by saying that “the history of communism demonstrates that humanity is of no concern” and substantiated it with particular reference to Cuba and the Castro regime. I realize that to Castro sympathizers such facts are unpalatable.
    My recording about the bicycle beside the A20 (south of Ashford) is factual. I demonstrated the difference between societies. You as usual indicated that things elsewhere are even worse – as if that is an excuse for others. The parts of British society to which you refer appear not to have been addressed by Labour governments when in power despite all the preaching.
    As for your comment about “the generally very peaceful country”, how is it that the Cuban jails are full and that Cuba has a much higher level of incarceration than the UK? Could it be repression?

  • June 11, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Mr MacD, There are a couple of your comments which give certain pause for thought:

    The first is your perennially one-sided take on the blood letting at the end of the Revolutionary War.
    As you might just about be aware, this blood letting followed a period of blood letting during the war which followed a period of blood letting prior to the war. I could not begin to justify the reprisals you speak of as I am firmly against the death penalty, but wars and their aftermaths are usually very messy and bloody affairs.
    But what gets me is this: What on earth has that specific aspect of Cuban History got to do with the article about recent spike in street attacks on Tres Picos in Eastern Havana ?
    I think you are bringing an entirely new level of meaning to the word ‘spurious’…….

    Secondly there is the bicycle on the A20. Now I don’t know what part of the A20 you are referring to, but if you are attempting to suggest that Cuba has a worse problem with crime than the UK, then you are inhabiting some parallel universe.
    I know the two countries very well. There are certain city neighbourhoods in the UK that you simply would not take your wife to Mr MacD, she would be petrified to the point of demanding a taxi to the airport and the first flight home. This would be somewhat difficult as taxis often refuse to pick up in these neighbourhoods. And bicycle theft ??? I know people in the UK who have had bikes stolen whilst they’ve been riding them. Dragged right off, given a kicking and bye bye bicycle…….
    There are also tranquil and peaceful parts of the UK with little crime to speak of. (The Beautiful Isle of Mull for example). I’ve been to remoter parts of Cuba where crime is practically unheard of. No cops. No Tourists. I must get back there soon!!

    Your comments are always interesting Mr MacD. Your retirement with your dog walking and chatting with the folks in the neighbourhood sounds idyllic. Many would be jealous. But you do seem to complain a lot about the generally very peaceful country in which you spend those 8 months per year.
    I always find this a bit odd.

  • June 7, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    For me Dan, you raise an interesting question, that of motivation which I may at sometime address. In the introduction to my book, I wrote:

    “Tourists enjoying a respite from a busy life in free western societies in the popular resorts of Varadero, Holquin, Cayo Coco, Trinidad or Vinales or pursuing the wider tourist experience of the back-packing routes including Maria la Gordo, Pinar del Rio, Soroa, San Antonio de Los Banos, the Zapata peninsula, Cienfuegos, Camaguey and Baracoa will often as a consequence of talking to Cubans providing them with services in hotels, coaches and casa particulars (bed and breakfast) gain a little knowledge of life in Cuba beneath the tourist resort veneer for the average Cuban and with that experience may thirst for more.”

    For your interest, during the last year I spent more than eight months at home in Cuba, meeting only Cubans and living as a member of their society, conversing with them and walking wherever I go, frequently with our dog, talking to the kids playing in the street, shopping both in the various shops, in the weekly farmers market, and on the street. I have no option but to watch State TV’s eight channels – we don’t get those provided in the hotels. i even get the odd look at Granma. I didn’t meet a single tourist until the day before I left. I hope that in my comments I reflect accurately that which I experience and that it may help in a small way to quench any thirst for knowledge of the reality.

  • June 6, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Carlyle–Right I get it, and I know whereof you speak regarding that gasp of awe when you enter a home that looks rough on the outside, and is entirely nicer than my own home on the inside. Suddenly our feelings go from reluctance to even perhaps a bit of envy! How fickle our emotions can be. It’s also another reminder to all of us as adults that no matter how old we are, we still need to remember life’s little bits of wisdom, even if they are cliches–such as ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’…But in terms of your comments, I think you should just be aware that many readers and writers on this site are way beyond the Varadero 4 B’s crowd and you should give people more credit that their comments don’t come from a desire for shallow experiences, and that for many here, that’s exactly why we are here–not to be schooled by any one person in a factual sort of way, but to absorb as much as we can while we aren’t there, as we bide our time between return visits!

  • June 5, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    No Dan, I have every respect for the views of others. But, I do try to explain the reality of Cuba to those who obviously do not fully comprehend it.
    Let me describe the experience of my wife, regarding bicycles. On her first visit abroad – to the UK, she noticed a bicycle propped up against a wall beside the A20 road (the original London to Folkstone road – which still carries a lot of traffic). The bike was right beside the long driveway to the home of our initial hosts. She found it so difficult to believe that three days later the bicycle was still there, she got me to take a photograph of it which she showed to people in Cuba as nobody had stolen it.
    As previously disclosed, she teaches and to go backwards and forwards to school on a bicycle – one of those with 20″ wheels. At school, she always took it inside to an office for safety. One day when she went to collect it, it had gone. She called the police who found that the cleaner had put the bike outside the office but still on school premises and it had been stolen. The police told the cleaner that she would have to compensate my wife with 300 pesos – which she obviously didn’t possess and couldn’t possibly save. My wife was fortunately able to buy another.
    What I am demonstrating is the difference in societies. In our capitalist societies, thieves don’t bother with normal sit-up-and-beg bicycles – they go for the sporting $3,000 plus types. In Cuba, there is quite a lot of what we (you and I) would call petty-theft for my wife’s bike would have brought the equivalent of five weeks pay for the average Cuban. As far as street violence is concerned, I have only ever seen one minor squabble in Cuba and the police do clamp down. But domestic violence is another matter – as recently discussed in an article in HT.
    One of the astonishing things for visitors to Cuba can be if they ever walk through the door of one of those dilapidated looking homes and find that inside it is spotlessly clean, very neat and tidy. The women of Cuba are to be much admired for their domestic management on pitifully little money.
    There are lots of Cubans in jail. Although no other country (except perhaps China which manipulates its figures) meets the astronomically high levels of incarceration in the US, Cuba does lie fourth in the world, so the police are very active and people are guilty until proven innocent.
    I understand your hesitancy in speaking of Americans associating dilapidated buildings and people of colour with crime, but in Toronto, there is also a degree of associating people of colour with serious crime – particularly Jamaicans. The societal differences appear greater than in many other Canadian cities.
    I add again, that my concern in comments made is to address reality as Cubans experience it, for when at home, I live as a member of their society.

  • June 5, 2019 at 9:36 am

    As a tourist–essentially–visiting Cuba a few times, one thing I often tell fellow Americans who have not visited Cuba is that it’s an amazingly safe place to visit. If one is being honest, the way most Americans can best understand this is that neighborhoods that would be unsafe in the US, judging by the conditions and how the buildings look, etc.–are generally still very safe for tourists to walk around. Another way to put it is that most people would not recommend walking around a neighborhood in the US that looked like so many neighborhoods in greater Havana. In the US we associate dilapidated buildings and people of color with crime–I hate to say it, and I don’t feel that way, but if we are honest, this is how a lot of Americans view run-down parts of our US cities. So this is one very positive side of the Cuban story–that it’s relatively safe and we should not judge people or their neighborhoods by the condition of the buildings–or by anything other than how we are received when we visit. However, the next question is this: are we to believe that Cuba being mostly a safe place is due to something inherent in the people, or is it solely due to fear of a harsh government enforcing laws that result in jail time? If the US enforced its laws, many dangerous neighborhoods would no longer be dangerous. I have come to believe it’s due to both in Cuba–something inherently good in the people that has not yet been lost in the crush of modern life and the collective fall from human grace–but also due to fear of being jailed. And yes Carlyle, I know you like to diminish others’ comments on this site by pointing out that they are tourists, while you have partly adopted Cuba as your home–no I do not stay in hotels and no I don’t limit my visits to Vedado! But also, no, I don’t stay in La Lisa and yes, I realize life is different for Cubans in Cuba compared to travelers in Cuba…

  • June 4, 2019 at 10:26 am

    The history of communism demonstrates that humanity is of no concern. Mao defined the method and concerns of Marxism/Leninism when he said: “Power comes out of the mouth of a gun.” That was illustrated by Raul Castro Ruz at Santiago de Cuba on January 12, 1959 when he had 78 human beings executed by firing squad in one day, and by Dr. Ernesto Guevara de La Serna Lynch between January 2 and June 12, 1959 at La Cabana in Havana during which he had 357 people executed by firing squad. Although Fidel Castro had said on January 21st, 1959: “Besides, the number of henchmen we are going to execute will not be more than four hundred.” Cuban archival materials document 3,615 executions by firing squad with another 1,253 extra-judicial killings by the Castro regime. The Castro power and control was indeed “out of the mouth of a gun.” The people they slaughtered were their fellow Cubans.
    Where is the humanity?

  • June 3, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Underdevelopment is terrible for any nation. It’s not easy to bring everybody up all at once. It’s a generational issue that involves attitudes, opportunities for growth at all levels of society creation, educational enhancements and yes investment by those that are ahead in the race for culture, growth of the human experience. Yes folks, humanity is an experience.

  • June 3, 2019 at 8:58 am

    A good way to catch these robbers would be to set them up with a police sting operation! Set the trap then send the bait and bingo these bad people are on a chain gang!! They will be the ones trimming the bushes!! They will be sentenced to at least 7- years hard labour for their crimes! Put them to work once they are caught in order to pay for their crimes!! Chain gangs are the perfect way to get the work done by these criminals.

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