Hunter Hunted, More on Gender Violence in Cuba

Rosa Martinez

Typical bus in Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — Conner Gorry’s article, Me too: Gender Violence in Havana, took me back to an incident that happened a long time ago, which I still remember, even when, let’s just say, my memory isn’t the best.

I was in the city of Santiago de Cuba, I was studying at the university there and so clearly I spent more time there than I did in my own province and that’s where my love for Santiago de Cuba was born.

It was the third year of my degree, I already knew the city from one corner to the next because I used to walk a lot. I would regularly go out and walk through neighborhoods, from the most well-known and pleasant ones (for example, Sueño) to the more recently formed ones of shanty homes.

However, the scare I had didn’t take place in any of these, but on a private truck, which was (and still is) one of the most used forms of transport by the city’s population.

On the day of the event, I was with three classmates. We were heading to Antonio Maceo, a neighborhood which is far from Oriente University, where we were studying and living.

The truck, like always at this time (in the middle of the Special Period crisis) was full, there wasn’t room for anyone else. Nevertheless, we climbed on, we pushed a little here, a little there, and we squeezed on with the rest, all we had to do now was hold out…

Our main concern were our backpacks. … and pick-pockets which are very common in this beautiful eastern Cuban city, so people know you have to keep an eye on your pockets, wallets and bags in situations like this.

The truck started moving and we hadn’t even traveled a block when I felt something hard in my back. It’s true that it was a difficult situation, nearly all the passengers were standing on just one foot, but I don’t think there’s a need to make a big deal about it, I said to myself.

Making a great deal of effort, I managed to change position and move myself away from the gun that was pointing at me.

Minutes later, I felt the same hardness again, I thought that it was something else, but no, I was being hit with the same danger; I got out of there again as best I could.

However, it was no use, the drill sergeant didn’t want to leave without shooting and he chased me again.

I gave the man a defiant glare, without fear and anger. I have always been forward (at least that’s what my family says) but my challenging glare didn’t provoke any response in the man that I found extremely revolting.

I had run out of options, my patience had run out a long time ago. Without knowing what else to do, I moved away AGAIN. My classmates already knew at this point what was going on.

If he comes up against me again, I’m going to kick him in the b…, I angrily told my friends…

You’re crazy, they told me between gritted teeth, can’t you see how strong he is, all three of us can’t take him on.

Then I remembered something that could save me and I thought: you want to touch, do you? Well, come, little man, you’ll see what’s really good.

As these kinds of people have no shame whatsoever, the hunter went to attack again. And when he straighted himself up thinking I had nowhere else to go, I took out a thick sewing needle that I carried in my bag and I stabbed him with the needle that must have gone in real deep, because he let out a small cry and, of course, he got lost…