14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 18 January 2024 — Many agents of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) are called Palestinians because they are usually transferred from Cuba’s Eastern provinces – Granma, Guantánamo, Holguín, Las Tunas, Santiago de Cuba – to other places, especially Havana, in the cunning strategy that the dictatorship always carried out to fuel hatred between the repressors and the repressed.
There is nothing better for this than to take advantage of the xenophobia that is assumed – whether true or not – among the residents of the capital and inhabitants of the center of the Island in relation to eastern Cubans, and vice versa. They are also called smurfs, because of the color of their uniforms, although it is certainly darker than that of the Belgian cartoons that give them their name.
Not only do their physiques and origins generate derision. The lack of knowledge of the city they patrol causes them to fall into countless tragicomic situations. Like those eastern police officers who, according to popular legends, asked for reinforcements for “Callello” street after reading the sign for “110th Street” [Calle110] on a corner marker.
Today, short of officers, and with its young members having been born smaller due to chronic malnutrition, not even the PNR is free from the traces of exodus and misery in Cuba
Unaware of the capital’s geography, crammed into shelters and with a poor diet of claria and rice, the dream of many of them is to “meet a Havana woman,” get married and so be able to qualify for the necessary residency permit to be able to stay and live in the big city. Others quickly learn to ask for bribes and turn a blind eye if they are slipped a bill. Many do not even continue wearing the uniform a few years after their arrival.
This Thursday, the sidewalks of the Havana Capitol were guarded by uniformed men whose faces the neighbors had not seen before. “Looks like a new batch of smurfs arrived,” a woman commented sarcastically after passing them. “But they bring these Palestinians, weaker and weaker,“ answered an old man sitting on a bench in Fraternity Park.
Today, short of officers, and with its young members having been born smaller due to chronic malnutrition, not even the PNR is free from the traces of exodus and misery in Cuba.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.