The Real Cuba Inspires More Terror Than any Halloween Witch

The whole place, like so many other premises these days, is decorated, like they do in America, to celebrate the night of the witches. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 28 October 2022 — This weekend, customers of the private restaurant Rey & Gaby (on G y 25th, El Vedado) are being welcomed onto the premises by a special ’doctor’. He wears a white hospital gown, but all splashed with red — resembling bloodstains and guts hanging out of his body. The whole place is decorated, like many other premises on this date in the calendar, in the way they do it in America — to celebrate the night of the witches, Halloween, on 31 October.

Skulls, cobwebs, scary clowns, vampires… all made from paper maché, even the round pumpkins, which are native to the neighbouring country to the north, with their terrifying faces carved by hand, but which are non-existent on the island.

It’s clear that they’ve gone to town with the decorations at Rey & Gaby, but what’s really scary is the reality which is everywhere. Firstly, their prices — one piece of cheesecake, another distinctly American product, costs more than a thousand pesos: enough to bring on a heart attack in even the most stoical of people.

In the same restaurant, it’s the ‘hipbreaking’ transport inspector who is more feared — pushing crowds of people onto buses, like tins of sardines.

For months now, the population has seemed guarded, when not short-tempered or straight out violent.

Further out, the ruined houses of what used to be the richest neighbourhood of the capital rise up threateningly, columns in precarious equilibrium, faded and worn facades, invaded by the wild vegetation.

Even worse, in recent months the darkness caused by planned power cuts has increased the tension in the streets: the gloom being favourable to all kinds of assailants, much more alive than any zombies.

And all that’s not to mention the horror stories that run around the suburbs. According to one, in some areas of the city there are these two certain police cars, in reality unmarked vehicles, that turn up by surprise at the street corners where street-sellers are to be found, and, with no pity, fines of thousands of pesos are handed out.

Even more sad than souls in purgatory are the relatives of the thousands and thousands of Cubans who have abandoned the island over the last year in an unprecedented exodus, leaving behind them nothing but ghost towns.

Certainly, in current times, Cuba is itself more terrifying than any Halloween witch.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso  


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 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.