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 5, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    You’re right Moses, I’ve seen far worse than this and I’m using the word ‘slave’ in a very general sense.

  • January 4, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    You call that a tirade? I agree with the essence of your comment. I am just not comfortable with the whole “we are slaves” reference. Ouch!

  • January 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    No society is perfect and we are slaves to whichever one we belong to in one degree or another whether we believe it or not, even we Canadians. Personally I find the point of view of this site honest and extremely informative without going over the top. Keep up the great work, as a frequent traveler to Havana I often visit your page for current news. Let’s see what tirade my comment brings.

  • January 4, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Of course she has never been to Cuban’s Aduana. I mean the writer of this article.

  • January 4, 2016 at 2:27 am

    I am not judging but I think some commenters fire up a joint before commenting. How else do you explain it?

  • January 4, 2016 at 2:23 am

    Hollywood Moses?

  • January 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    “pity the poor homeless”? Cuba doesn’t need charity it needs trade! With Soviet subsidies one could do without accounting, the problem is the right in Venezueala, you know the gangsters… why does Hollywood Moses think we need a gun to rob our neighbours? There is a reason images depicting the human body are banned. Only the Sultans are equipped to view them? Everywhere else they’re called Latinos, in Britain they’re family doctors.

  • January 3, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Do you know where Cerro is located? Not exactly on the harbour. Also Cubans don’t hate wealth. Many aspire to it but through other means than mugging. Having said that I was mugged in broad daylight in Centro Havana some years ago. This is nothing new but the incidence will no doubt increase with the increase in tourists.

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