14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 1 November 2021 — Nervousness has taken hold of the forces of order, which this Sunday first tried to dissolve and then allowed a spontaneous Halloween celebration to continue on the Paseo del Prado in Havana.
Hundreds of people gathered around 8:00 at night in the central street of the capital. The first to arrive were the parents, some of them in disguise, with their young children. “I really like your Spiderman costume, I am Rapunzel,” a girl with a long blonde bow and pink robe said ecstatically to another little girl dressed in a popular Spider-Man costume.
As the night progressed, and while the minors ran and played up and down the Paseo, the teenagers began to arrive, with much more elaborate costumes that imitated the characters of the best-known horror films. The boys photographed themselves and uploaded the images to social networks, proud of their shared Halloween, when the Police appeared, trying to expel and disperse them with a hostile attitude.
However, more young people continued to arrive despite efforts to disband the group in the northern area of the Paseo. As if a counter-order had arrived, suddenly the agents stopped and began only to observe and monitor those congregating. Some were dressed in civilian clothes, others in military clothing, police officers, the canine brigade with their dogs and even the special brigade with patrol motorcycles and even a truck.
Two motorized police officers stopped a vendor on the adjoining sidewalk, without letting him approach the Prado with his cart full of sweets and preserves.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with them. They look at you as if you were a criminal. It bothers them that the kids play here, this is a public place,” says a man to the woman who walks with him with a little girl disguised as a witch. “What happens is that they have more fear than the desire to live. Not that the children were going to overthrow the Government with a spell,” she answers annoyed.
Since the day before on the Prado, the Malecón and on Calle G thousands of young people have gathered to celebrate Halloween. In several videos shared on social networks, you can even see the moment when the police repressed a large group that was walking through the Prado as the police tried to disperse them.
“On Saturday night a group of friends went out and we wanted to go sit on the Malecón but the police did not let us get there. Since we had been going down 23rd we saw that masses of people were going up La Rampa and we suspected that something had happened,” a 15-year-old girl tells this newspaper.
This Sunday a strong police operation kept the celebrations tense. Hundreds of uniformed men and agents guarded the streets and did not allow cell phones to take videos in some areas. The independent journalist Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho was arrested after making a live broadcast on his social networks.
Valdés Cocho confirmed to 14ymedio that he was detained by two plainclothes agents. “They put me in a gray car with a private Geely license plate and took me to Villa Marista and there you know: ‘undress and pose for them to check you’ and then two interrogations for more than 40 minutes each,” describes the collaborator of DNA Cuba, released this Monday morning.
Halloween or Samhain, celebrated on All Hallows’ Eve, is a pagan festival of Celtic tradition with which the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the new year were celebrated. The Irish imported it to the United States, where it was incorporated into popular culture with its own iconography and from there it has been exported around the world again, especially through the film industry.
Although in Cuba the ruling party has always looked at it with suspicion, in recent decades the holiday has been making its way amid the enthusiasm of young people and with the support of the private sector, which has seen the day a good time to market accessories, organize costume parties and decorate their premises with fake cobwebs or skulls.
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