Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
HAVANA TIMES —Some good friends of mine refer to the spot on Havana’s G avenue they habitually sit at “The Magic Grass.”
Though I don’t exactly know how this name – rather inaccurate, to be sure, for my friends never actually trespass on any lawn-covered areas – came about, I found it interesting how one can physically and emotionally take possession of something through the mere act of designating.
My friends, however, were unable to enjoy the small segment of paved ground they had conquered last month, the time I visited this avenue (officially known as Avenida de los Presidentes) most frequently this year.
Police officers have been continuously doing rounds there, asking people not to sit on the ground.
One could argue they are doing this to spare those who walk down the promenade any annoyances, but I don’t think that’s the case, for (as history and time have attested to) the avenue is sufficiently wide to accommodate all of the city’s urban tribes.
When I asked other people from around the neighborhood, I found out these prohibitive practices are anything but new and that they go through phases, becoming more effective and strict every so often – to the point that they’ve gone as far as putting people who do not abide by regulations in jail.
According to Pedro Vazquez’ book Calle G: de cuando los ciudadanos hallaron su ciudad (“G Street: When Citizens Discovered Their City”), the people who frequent G find in the avenue an “urban protagonism that makes them visible to others.” The location is an important public transportation hub and also makes getting back home relatively easy.
In addition, the “absence of any tall fences or obstructing vegetation along the length of the promenade, the absence of arbors, roundabouts or other structures that can be used as hiding places, the excellent public lighting and the ability of passersby to see the vehicles that drive past down either lane, contributes to the creation of a protected zone.”
Is it fair, then, that the fear of rebellion or conspiracy should deprive these young people of their piece of terrain, the only affordable place where an entire night can be spent with a guitar and a bottle of wine?
For the time being, knowing how these disciplinary measures tend to be implemented, I advise my friends to wake up early in the morning if they still want to meet up at G, for the law stipulates: no pavement for anyone, let alone any “magic grass.”