By Leo Cascar
HAVANA TIMES — Martin and Leo, two young artists from Havana were walking peacefully home at night after a long day of working, studying and rehearsing when a policeman called them over on the corner of 23rd and G Streets and rudely asked them for their IDs, in an almost unintelligible dialect, for reasons which, clearly in his delirious attempt to control everything, he thought was obvious.
While the young men waited for the policeman to finish up finding out what their civil status was on the database, they asked themselves why they had been stopped as all they were doing was walking. After quite a while, the policeman approached them and told them what they already knew: their criminal records were completely clean, and after this he asked them to show him what they had in their daypacks, the offended young men asked him why to which the policeman didn’t give any explanation and just insisted.
There were lots of things in the daypack including a laptop. The policeman began to ask lots of questions like: whose is it? why are you carrying it in a daypack? Until, after so many ridiculous questions, he ended with the best one of the night: Where are the documents stating the owner of this laptop? They looked at each other confused as they knew that a lot of people walk around Havana with their laptops and very few of them have these property papers, as they are bought from private individuals who don’t give you any papers, while others are purchased abroad and if they came with any papers, they would surely be kept in a safe place at home.
These two young men were arrested and taken to the police station on Zapata and C Streets because they didn’t have their laptop’s ownership documents. They were left all night in a cell, nobody giving them an explanation or asked them any further questions. The next morning, when the policemen switched shifts, they were made to sign a piece of paper and were then handed all of their belongings and released without any explanation whatsoever. Everything they asked was answered with silence, until they finally made up a story about how there had been a laptop theft and that just to make sure that it wasn’t the stolen laptop, they were arrested.
There’s no more irrational and insolent excuse than this. I can’t imagine that now if a cellphone was stolen, the police would lock up anybody carrying one on the street to find out which one it was… the young men’s parents said. And I ask myself, how is it possible that an institution that was created to look after people and to maintain order, commits this kind of foolishness? It’s true that the police in other countries are corrupt and aggressive, but in Cuba, while being very corrupt and only a little aggressive, they are also very stupid and not very well-trained.
I don’t understand how people allow them to continue lying and fooling us with this illusion that they exist to protect the population when crime in Havana has never been eliminated, and is even growing at an exponential rate because the police force doesn’t work properly, it loses its time on young students, while criminals continue running loose in Havana as if it’s nothing.