December is Proving a Hot Month

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – It was December, 1999. I was a skinny and idealistic Christian youth who had just finished his first year at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Havana, located atop the Santos Suarez hill.

Every Friday I had to travel to a church in Artemisa. I would return late on Sunday, after the worship service, so as not to wait for Monday. I’d head back very late on a bus route that went from that city to the Lido terminal in Marianao.

I should mention that the terminal at that time – I don’t know now – was a horrendous place, dirty and depressing, where some punks managed a shell game in full view of all, robbing the unwary with total impunity, with the help of some accomplices who acted as shills.

From there, the 100 bus, in its last run of the night, would leave me in La Vibora after an hour’s trip. La Vibora was a poor neighborhood, as depressing and unsafe as the bus terminal. I’d get off at around 1 am, and then walk about 10 blocks to the Seminary.

One time a police patrol stopped me to ask for my I.D. During those days, a number of bloody crimes were rumored to have taken place in the area.

I stopped making this trip at the beginning of 2000, when a colleague suffered an assault at the intersection of Via Blanca and Lacret street, and ended up beaten and stripped of his briefcase and watch, along with a little over 100 pesos.

For years, I’ve noted, observed and heard that the days leading up to New Year’s are the most dangerous, when robberies and traffic accidents increase.

Violent events aren’t usually seen as marks of December, but maybe because of the uptick in the difficult situation we Cubans suffer, this year it’s been terrible. A wave of violence has shaken Pinar del Rio since the beginning of the month.

A highly circulated Facebook post

A 58-year-old man was stoned and beaten around 10 at night in front of a building located on Maximo Gomez Street. Fortunately, he didn’t lose his life, and the criminals – two young guys of 19 and 22 – were captured in the hours following the assault. In other violent events, a pregnant woman lost her baby due to blows suffered during an assault. And a taxi driver got his face cut in moments when he was heading out to pick up patients undergoing dialysis.

These three examples illustrate the unsafe situation the province is suffering. People are terrified. Many don’t dare leave home after 6 pm. The crimes have had so much repercussion that the local press has had to pronounce on the subject, at the same time that they call on the population to avoid panic and alarm.

According to Radio Guama, in the provincial capital alone, up until December 6, nine incidents of violent robbery or personal intimidation had been reported, in four of which the victims suffered injuries.

Nonetheless, as couldn’t be lacking, the media also claimed that many of the commentaries coming from social media lack confirmed information, and in addition are posted with the objective of disparaging the “Revolution,” as part of the anti-Cuban campaigns orchestrated from abroad.

All this propaganda is intended to dress up the truth, but in fact it reveals once more that – thanks to those citizen denunciations on social media they can’t control – people are able to more or less inform themselves, which then forces the authorities to recognize in some way the sad reality the country is suffering.

This isn’t happening only in Pinar del Rio. News of such attacks, murders and robberies arrive from all over the island via the alternative media.

A young person stabbed in Las Tunas following a dispute over his place in a line to buy bread; an elderly person mugged in broad daylight near Havana’s Cuatro Caminos, in order to grab the package of hot dogs he obtained after four hours in line, etc.

That’s how December is stacking up: violent and heated, despite the low temperatures that are frequenting the western part of the country these days. All this adds to a grey Christmas season and an end of the year without hope.

Read more from the diary of Pedro Pablo Morejon here.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

One thought on “December is Proving a Hot Month

  • There are many Cuban youtubers documenting the food, medicine and fuel shortages, but I haven’t seen any on the crime situation. It goes without saying, however, that “difficult” times makes for desperate people.

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