Cuba: Verbal and Physical Violence Increases / Ivan Garcia

From Cubanet

Any place, public transportation, school, workplace or even in a family environment is prone to rudeness.  Many times start with insults and finishes like a boxing ring.

People with short fuses are abundant in Cuba.  Guys who use body language and verbal speech as guns.  Jose Carlos, 41 years old, thinks that the smallest thing can trigger a battlefield.

“If you are going to the store you have to be careful with your words and have patience.  The store clerks are always in a bad mood. They look like jail keepers.  The most scary ones are the receptionists. If they are not painting their nails, they are gossiping on the phone; they tell you to come back the next day because is lunch time. We are living in an epidemic of bad manners. Bad manners have nothing to do with the economic crisis or poverty, I think they are a consequence of the revolution; and now flourish like a bad weed,” says Jose Carlos.

Verbal and physical abuse usually start as young as the day care centers and progresses from elementary through high school; at least that is what Hilda, a 72-year-old retired school teacher thinks.

“In the four decades that I worked as a teacher, I realized that the verbal and physical abuse at the schools had increased during the last twenty years.  Upon the beginning of the “Special Period” around the early 90’s the loss of values, bullying among students, the usage of dirty words and vulgarities is present in ages as early as 5 to 6 years old.  I saw children whose parents had to transfer them from the schools because of the bullying and the violence from other children.  Usually kids duplicate the attitudes that they see at home and on occasions parents can behave worse than the kids.  They can act as irrational human beings.  If their kid got punished an earthquake could be unleashed; that coupled with low salaries are two of the reasons why young people elect not to be teachers.  Nobody wants to work in a place where aside from making little money it can bring you other issues”, says the experienced teacher.

The smallest touch in a public transportation vehicle can trigger an exchange of loud insults; and in the heat of the moment a physical altercation can occur.  Some managers, Arnaldo comments, behave with their subordinates as feudal bosses.  “I work in an food preparation plant for the tourism business. The superiors treat us as if we are dogs.  When we try to defend our rights they show you the front door.  It is the majority of them who behave as if they are God’s chosen or belong to a different social casts.”

A sociologist from Havana made it very clear, “The increase of verbal and physical abuse is part of a rude language filled with testosterone which Fidel Castro’s government started implementing.  Vulgarity became the watchword.  From insults used at public political speeches up to the jingles massively created around 1962 after the October Crisis.  For example:  “Nikita, faggot, what you give you can’t take back,” or “Ae, Ae, Ae the lollipop, Nixon doesn’t have a mother because a monkey gave birth to him.”  Another example was the unethical note published in the official newspaper Granma the day that Ronald Reagan past away, it said “Today died one who should have never have been born.”  This antisocial and aggressive conduct from the Cuban social leadership, who often have converted the landscape of diplomacy into a cock fight ring, has been reproduced among the people for the last 54 years.  You can not expect good manners when the ones in charge do not have them,” said the sociologist.

In some families, eating an egg or a piece of bread that does not belong to the person can start a small war.  In Cuba is not unusual to find three generations living together.  In a home, is not unusual to find family members that do not talk to each other or cook and maintain their domestic life separately.  The children have as common occurrence the fights and verbal insults among family members.

Reggaeton music is another source of dirty language and incitement to violence.  A musician from Havana is convinced of that.  “The lyrics of that music style and the bands who play them are “chabacanas” which means low class and in poor taste.  Young people attempt to copy the way those artists dress; they attempt to copy their “macho” message which usually propagates violence, frivolity and drugs.”

After musical gatherings, either reggaeton or other types of music and regardless of the police presence, it has become the norm for those activities to end with fights using knives.  At the Red Plaza at La Vibora, in Diez de Octubre town, at certain Revolutionary marked dates, they often offer dances and parties.

They erect portable bathrooms made of wood in each corner and until 2 in the morning the music is blasting with those dirty lyrics that do not let the neighbors sleep.

At the end of the concerts is when the party really begins.  The fights among the marginal individuals, the stairs and halls are converted into public bathrooms or people smoking marijuana.  Sex is practiced in any small and dark space; all a spectacle of violence and disrespect.

Ivan Garcia

Translated by LYD

15 September 2013