A Havana New Year’s Mugging

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Tourist taking pictures.
Tourist taking pictures. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — She’s a foreigner walking down Havana’s Cerro district, near Tulipan. She’s read in several travel books that there’s practically no violence in Cuba, so she can’t imagine a group of young people will mug her there at 4 pm.

She’s toured much of Cerro, starting at Boyeros avenue, accompanied by a Cuban artist. She takes pictures of the architecture. She’s also an artist, see.

He’s from Havana, so he’s on the alert. He feels uncomfortable and tells her friend this, minutes before three young men try to snatch the camera that hangs from her neck.

She tries to take a picture of the facade of Immaculate Heart of Maria Church when she is shoved from behind and a person tries to run away with her camera.

On the ground, she sees the lens come off the camera and roll across the sidewalk, and the kids run off with the camera body.

Ahead of her, her artist friend has been intercepted by a third kid, shy of 20.

He holds a sharp knife in his hand and threatens to kill him. He doesn’t ask for anything, not even his wallet or the bag slung over his shoulder, nothing. He’s only holding him back while his accomplices finish the job.

It’s all over in a few seconds. He’s in shock and manages only to help the girl off the ground and stop the first taxi he comes across.

They head down to the police station, without even having memorized the faces of the assailants.

When I find out about this, the first thing that comes to mind are my mother’s words of advice: “don’t get home too late on the last days of the year, people go a little crazy out on the street.”

I feel afraid.

I never go out alone in the early morning, but I do so in the afternoon. What should I do?

In recent days, I’d heard of similar incidents, but one always imagines those things only happen to other people. It’s only when it happens to a close friend that it becomes real.

We need to do something.

I don’t know whether the surveillance cameras around Havana should be put to good use, or if more police officers should be deployed in areas with higher crime rates.

All I know is that we need to do something.

26 thoughts on “A Havana New Year’s Mugging

  • May 21, 2016 at 7:28 am

    The major difference being that a majority of the homeless in the U.S. choose to be homeless. There are plenty of organizations who provide housing and meals to the homeless, and even help them with job placement, however they prefer to live “freely” on the streets and feed their alcohol or drug addiction. i work closely with one such organizations, and trust me, it’s battle trying to get the homeless off the streets.

  • January 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    This is why I’m against legalizing weed! Great point though IC. Hopefully, necessary changes are inevitable as from what I see, Cuba should one day be the Isle of Smiles! May a thousand plants bloom!

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