Citizen Insecurity in Cuba
By Javier Herrera
HAVANA TIMES – Citizen security is one of the key values needed to protect the country and government. It’s impossible for society to work without a peaceful and harmonious climate, where human rights and laws are respected, and it ends up becoming a civil battlefield.
Recently, Radio Guantanamo expressed its sincere condolences on the passing of radio host David Alexis Gonzalez Joseph, highlighting his virtues and qualities. What the post didn’t say – which was a very bad job on the journalist’s part who wrote the text and of censorship for limiting the news – was the cause of his death.
Reading the comments, you discover that this wasn’t a sudden death or death due to an illness or accident. David Alexis was murdered in his home in the early hours of the night before.
A source close to the victim, who prefers to remain anonymous, tells us:
“He was stabbed and had his throat slit in the early morning of April 26th. He was killed so they could rob his home. He was living alone. This is my neighborhood. Somebody gets attacked here every day.”
Two days before, the www.cubanosporelmundo.com website attested to a woman being attacked in the Havana town of Cojimar, over a thousand kilometers away from Guantanamo, who was stabbed eight times by a perpetrator who tried to take her backpack.
If you search Cuban news online, two days don’t go by before you find a violent incident, armed robbery and even murder in cold blood. The economic crisis has taken firm root in society, to the point that its destroyed values and is turning the country into a battlefield where criminals roam about and ordinary citizens are defenseless.
Government media have kept quiet about such incidents. However, keeping quiet and looking the other way doesn’t make the crime disappear, even if it’s famous sports journalist Julita Osendi, who was the victim of a robbery in broad daylight, a few weeks ago. In fact, it does the exact opposite, publishing this news would serve as a warning to the general population as to the danger in certain towns or neighborhoods. It would also warn criminals that society is watching and keeping an eye on them.
While life becomes uncertain in the jungle we are becoming, the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) seems to be looking away too. They are never around when these incidents take place. The police take hours to answer a call for help. When they arrive on the scene, they just stick to protocol and the questions they ask victims seem to lean more towards trying to establish their responsibility in the incident than trying to ascertain the facts.
A joke that’s trending at the moment says if you need the police, it’s more efficient to shout out loud and clear: “PATRIA Y VIDA” (Homeland and Life), the slogan dissidents and the regime’s opposition use, because two patrol cars will definitely show up in less than two minutes, as well as a truck of special forces and up to five or six counter-intelligence (CI) political police motorbikes.
While violence and crime take over our streets, the PNR – which should be ensuring citizen security – is at the CI’s service and under their direct orders. CI has given the PNR priority tasks and it’s more important now to stand watch over any well-known or unknown dissident, to stop them from leaving their home without a court order, than to chase down thieves and assailants.
Along with news of attacks and robberies, it’s common to find opposition activists and dissidents complain about police harassment in response to them expressing their opinions. Arbitrary arrests, long interrogations, constant summons, and threats are on the menu every day for people who dare to open their mouths and report the evil that is corrupting our society. There’s plenty of resources for this, but there aren’t resources to make sure people abide by the Law.
In Cuba’s fields, livestock theft and slaughter are on the rise. Given the authorities’ indifference, farmers are already talking about organizing self-defense brigades. For anyone who doesn’t understand the gravity of this, I’d recommend you look at different self-defense movements of farmers that emerged in Central America and Colombia, to stand up to armed drug cartels. We all know they end up becoming criminal groups just as or even more powerful than the ones who victimized them.
If impunity continues, ordinary citizens will begin to defend themselves and take justice into their own hands. There’s a very fine line between taking justice into your own hands and committing a crime, killing and going overboard with violence, so fine you can barely see it, and this is a line you don’t want society to cross. Powerful groups will appear that will end up becoming mafias, who monopolize crime and violence.
Like in any State, Cuba has institutions responsible for ensuring people abide by the Law and thereby keeping citizen safety in check. It’s time for them to stop their political repression and do their basic job. It’s time for the press to question institutions that don’t do their job and leave citizens defenseless. We are talking about public prosecutors and courts who sentence a young man who takes to the street with an anti-government sign to 15-20 years in prison, while perpetrators of real crimes see their cases dismissed.
I’m talking about police who should be enforcing the Law and don’t. I’m also talking about leaders who give victory speeches from their bubble and make people believe that Cuba is a paradise of peace today.
Insecurity is the dish of the day in Cuba: We are not sure if we’ll have enough money to get to the end of the month, we aren’t sure we’ll be able to fight a disease and have the resources we need to treat it. Likewise, we aren’t sure if we’ll find food, we aren’t sure if we’ll ever see a relative ir friend who leaves for other lands ever again… and to top all of that off, our lives and measly possessions aren’t safe now either.
One thought on “Citizen Insecurity in Cuba”
Despair mounts – like lava in a volcano!
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