In my country there is no police blotter — what we would call “the red report” — nor is there a tabloid, or “yellow,” press. Gray, a lot of gray for this harmless information that wastes ink and radio and TV time. Given the endemic drought in information on the part of those who supposedly exist to report the news, this space has been filled for many years by “Radio Bemba” — literally, “Lip Radio.” And on Radio Bemba the latest news is like the Saturday night movie. That masked men boarded a bus and, threatening people with weapons, invited the passengers to give up all their belongings, money and technology; that a bank branch was stormed in Vedado; even the robbery of a snack from a currency exchange in Diezmero, or a store, or, depending on the source both places, ended up as news because, it’s said, that the thief – crazy or desperate — attacked the guard post at 11th and 12th streets in Vedado, a post that is maintained because that’s the address on Fidel Castro’s identity card. The latest is they say that four children disappeared on the way home from school.
The police — I’ve been told — denied that there was any assault on a bus, an extraordinary event that suggests the dimensions this rumor — or ball — achieved. The simile in this case cannot be better, because that news has been a like a snowball, growing in size and gaining speed. It is interesting that many people still believed the rumor even after the People’s Revolutionary Police spokesman denied it.
Collective hysteria or not, a desire to spread fantasies or not, in any case it is an omen of the escalation of violence that we could see in the coming year with the layoffs of a million people.
November 17, 2010