“Three boys were stabbed in the Piragua* the other night,” “don’t go by Zapata and G where you might be assaulted,” “a former policeman killed a child for stealing mamoncillo fruit,” “don’t even think of going to Central Havana after ten.” These are some of the phrases that make up our own alternative red chronicle, part of the flow of information about violence not reflected in the official media. There is a latent tension that doesn’t explode in a protest at the Plaza of the Revolution, nor in an encampment in front of the Council of State, but is channeled into the punch that smashes into the skin during Carnival, or an iron bar sinking into a shoulder in a riotous brawl. This constant irritation — attributable not only to the heat — brings out the blades in the most unpredictable places, and even makes the little kids who should be playing peacefully raise their fists.
A few days ago two women were pulling each other’s hair as they fought to get a seat in a shared taxi, a bus inspector took a stick to a rider who complained of his management, a mother slapped her son because he smeared ice cream on his shirt, and a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution member from Santiago beat a regime opponent until he broke his jaw. What’s happening to us? Why this fury that turns one against another? Why this institutional silence about the facts now inherent in our everyday lives? I remember having spent a couple of hours in a police station and being amazed at the number of foreigners who came to report a robbery. One after another they came and the official in charge put his hands on his head. “This is too much,” I heard him say.
The authorities in our country think that not mentioning these risks will make them disappear. They think perhaps the absence of a report about the violence plaguing the city will cause it to decrease. I’m sick and tired of turning on the TV and seeing only incidents that happen on the streets of New York or Berlin. I have a son 16 years old and I know the dangers he faces crossing the threshold of our doorway. Enough already of falsifying statistics, manipulating certificates of injuries, hiding the results of the rage. We are a society where a blow and a scream have replaced words, let’s admit it and begin to look for solutions for it.
Piragua: A large plaza-type open space along Havana’s Malecon overlooked by the Hotel Nacional.