The Inviolability of the Home / Yaremis Flores

Yaremis Flores

It is six p.m.  Paula is eating dinner in front of the TV, enjoying her favorite cartoons.A All of a sudden there’s a knock on the door so loud that she spills her soda and runs to cling to her mother.

Orisel, her father, annoyed, opens the door and is surprised to see the Sector Chief, with a document in his hands authorizing him to search their home.  Scarcely giving an opportunity to verify the paper, two other officers enter, hunting like hungry wolves after prey.

“But what are you looking for” Orisel asks.

“Something of illicit origin,” replies the officer in charge.

It turns out that, with a frightening superficiality, Orisel has been classified by his Sector Chief in the categories of “offender,” “suspect,” and “dangerous.” Although it seems like a scene from a novel, sequences like this happen often, constituting a clear violation of the constitutional guarantee of the inviolability of the home.

That afternoon, the police seized little Paula’s money-box, as well as a computer, for not having the certificate of ownership.

As regulated in the Criminal Procedure Act, the object of a search warrant must be specific, and not just the usual boilerplate “possession of illegally obtained goods.” Moreover, the mere fact of possessing an object without having its title certificate does not constitute a crime.

The authorities bear the burden of proving that the item in question is of illicit origin, such as the result of another crime, burglary for instance. Otherwise it is presumed that the possessor is the lawful owner.

January 25 2012

The Odyssey of Reporting a Crime in Cuba / Yaremis Flores

Yaremis Flores.

Gabriel got up in the morning. He was shocked to find that when going to shower water was not coming through the rusty pipes of his modest home. It seemed to him that something wasn’t right. He went out onto the patio and followed the course of the piping until he saw the cut in the adjoining house.

His neighbor, with whom he had legal problems about the patio boundaries, had cut the pipe. He stated that he was within his rights to do so. Gabriel went early on to the nearest police station with the aim of reporting his neighbor. There the torturous process began.

Upon arriving, a mother was making a fuss because she didn’t know to which police station her detained son had been moved to. After a while the police, neither willing nor able to give her an answer, took her to an office. Once they were away from the civilians present, they began to give support to the exasperated woman.

By then it was eleven in the morning. The plan to get to work for the evening shift had disintegrated. “I got out of the chair, thinking that the official in charge of the case had forgotten about me. The official hardly raised his eyes from his papers and told me to wait,” Gabriel remarked.

There he stayed seated for three hours, though it almost seemed like centuries. Then came his turn. The young official started to prepare the criminal complaint form when he suspended the act and left the office. Impatient with the delay, Gabriel went over to the file once more. Behind his desk the agent looked up the crime in the Penal Code that the claim could be based on.

The reporting party suggested a crime category: arbitrary exercise of rights. The policeman, offended, claimed he would not file a report because there had been no crime. Unsatisfied, the reporting party asked to speak with his superior. After much insistence he succeeded in filing the complaint. Gabriel returned home exhausted, disappointed, and in a bad mood.

Stories like this are told more often than one would like. As a result, when people are victims of a crime, instead of filing a report they say to themselves with certainty, “Why bother? I’d just lose the whole day doing it and nothing would get resolved.” So says Caridad, victim of a robbery at her house a year ago. Her items have not been recovered.

This rude behavior violates the penal legislation in force regarding criminal complaint filing procedure and the behavior of the police when they have knowledge of a crime. The lack of human sensitivity of the uniformed officers and their poor judicial training stand in the way on the road to justice. Thus, more and more each day, the public loses confidence in the authorities.

Translated by: Adam Cooper

January 6 2012

“That Old Newspaper Yellowed With Age“ / Yaremis Flores

Yaremis Flores Marín

A few days ago I read in Granma, the official mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Party, an article about the end of the debate by the Parliamentary Commission, in whose mind they had analyzed among other things, the effectiveness of the economic model.

What they were saying to the population was “we are working for…, we are analyzing…, we are satisfactorily completing…”

To summarize, all of the Commissions inflated in one way or another, efficiency; and those that did not meet some parameter, they justified with those empty slogans which we have become accustomed to — that they work to achieve the development of the country and the satisfaction of the people.

A few days ago, dusting off memories, my grandmother found an edition of Granma dated Wednesday, July 12, 1989. It was yellow with age. She had saved it as though it were a relic. I was just a girl back then.

The first thing that surprised me about that old edition of Granma was the size of the publication (twice what it is today). Aside from that, on its first page it talked about the subjects that were to be debated during the 5th National Assembly. From that day forth the subjects of construction, public services and worker protections were all on the table.

Moving forward to the present, the failure is evident. The housing situation is precarious; the shortage of building materials; public services in decline; and don’t even talk about the protection of the workers, when today we’re all threatened by the era of “availability”, which is simply a word that tries to put lipstick on what I prefer to call “unemployment.”

So I ask myself, do I have to wait another 20 years to read another edition of Granma which will capture the same thing?

Translated by: Hank

December 6 2011