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

  • January 3, 2016 at 1:40 am
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    Spaniards are White my dear don’t be ignorant racist yourself. Happy New Year!

  • January 2, 2016 at 8:07 pm
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    Brother Stephen Boka, If you are referring to me, I have been there three times and I would feel comfortable living there. The natives are extremely friendly, sharing the little that they have with you. In Cuba, you are in no rat race like in the USA where you have to work at five and six jobs in order to make ends meet. House rent alone in the USA is a killer. There are no homeless people on the streets in Cuba just barely existing and badly in need of medical attention and searching garbage bins to survive. Pity the poor homeless people on the streets in the USA, barely dressed to cope with the winter season, eating away at what others have discarded in the so-called richest and freeest country in the world?

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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    Going around el Cerro was the first mistake. Tourists in Cuba need to understand that they are seen as a privileged class by a populace that has been taught to hate and envy wealth. How else can they be kept as slaves. So, beware of the neighborhoods traveled. As a world traveler I try to stay away from the port of entry of cruise ships. Those are the areas that are most sought after by criminals. Tourists are not likely to remain to press charges and testify against assailants. Thieves are aware of this fact. So caveat emptor…

  • January 2, 2016 at 10:14 am
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    What in the world are you talking about!?

  • January 2, 2016 at 10:09 am
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    Yes. Robberies are there every where.

  • January 2, 2016 at 10:08 am
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    Come on Greg.
    Accept the realities. Cuba is not a great country. But United States of America is.
    Look around… See the great things americans are doing.

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:40 am
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    Really? That’s because you know that these robberies didn’t happen? How?

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:39 am
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    Let me be the first to invoke Godwin’s Law. Kennedy is unreasonably attached to his native Cuba. That’s to say that he seems unwilling to hear reasonable and valid criticism of Cuba and the Castros. Yes, they are two different things. That kind of blind patriotism is most common in fascist societies. Kennedy fails another test. Rather than intelligently defend his failed Castro regime, he childishly deflects through criticism of the US. I can’t speak for Circles Robinson, the Havana Times editor, but I am guessing that the purpose of the blog is NOT to destroy the Revolution. Besides, the Castros don’t need any help doing that.

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