14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 23 November 2022 – Muggings in broad daylight are becoming more and more common on Cuban streets. On Wednesday two individuals assaulted a minor in the Luyanó quarter, Diez de Octubre, Havana, and took his phone. The thieves tried to run away but members of the public intervened and one of them was caught and handed over to police.
The attempted robbery happened mid-morning in calle Rodríguez, between Reforma and Fábrica streets. The boy was walking down the road when two youths pounced on him to grab his phone, local residents told 14ymedio. “When the neighbours realized what was happening and went to help the boy one of the youths managed to escape down an alleyway on Reforma but they caught him. The other got away”.
The youth was beaten by a group of residents of the zone and handed over to police, who arrived a short while later. “They hit him several times”, said a neighbour, who witnessed the whole thing from her front door. “I thought they were going to kill him, they were so angry he’d done that to a little kid”.
“These days they don’t even wait till dark, it’s dangerous just to walk the street in the daytime”, the woman added. We used to be able to walk about without worrying around here but now it’s become problematic just getting your phone out or carrying a nice purse or wearing a neck chain -even if it’s fake”.
It’s becoming more and more common for neighbours to take the law into their own hands against thieves, fraudsters or sex offenders. The economic crisis has fuelled an increase in so-called “quick snatch” street crimes [muggings] in which the criminal runs away at top speed after taking a phone or a wallet or a piece of jewellery. Some simply escape on foot while others use bikes or mopeds to get away after committing their crimes.
In the last few months social media has been filled with complaints in which citizens have called for urgent measures to be taken against the increase in street crime in the country. Some complain that although there are enough police around to deal with protesters and supposed ’crimes’ against the State, there are not enough for rooting out thieves in the local neighbourhood.
The government does not publish the numbers of thefts or robberies, nor those of violent assault, so it is impossible to know when, or whether, the crime rate is increasing or decreasing. Nor does the official media cover this sort of crime or any possible crime wave, generally limiting its coverage to robberies in the state sector, and, in many cases, boasting about successes in solving them.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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