Who Are The Criminals in Cuba? / Lilianne Ruíz

The faces of some who died in the 13 de Marzo Tugboat incident

A friend called to ask me an important question about criminality in Cuba. Is Cuba a safe country with a crime rate lower than other countries in Latin America? In my haste to answer I overlooked a point which, in my judgement, is fundamental, so I want to explore it in my blog.

When I was a child, I believed in the police. The police were the guardians of order. Must we thank the police because there are no drug cartels in Cuba as there are in Colombia, or because citizens are not kidnapped here as in other places? But the police do indeed carry out kidnappings.

In spite of the undeniable ethical pathology suffered by many Cubans, who seem unaware of any constraints which would help them avoid involvement in the corruption rampant today in Cuba, it is not the average citizen who is this society’s greatest criminal.

When the political police — in Cuba that would be all the police, especially the Department of State Security — conduct arbitrary searches in the homes of citizens seen exercising their right to live and express themselves freely, they confiscate the belongings of these same individuals, including their money. They have also been trained in the use of all manner of physical repression, which on occasion has caused injuries to people who are neither law breakers nor criminals.

In Santiago de Cuba, Andrés de Carrión, currently a member of UNPACU* and the same brave man who shouted “Down with Communism” in the city plaza during the Pope’s visit, has begun a hunger strike after the police raided his home and, with the impunity the state grants to its henchmen, removed all Andrés’ belongings. Under no circumstances would such a robbery happen to a citizen of a country that was anything but a dictatorship.

You must forgive me for not having more current information. I was having difficulties with my internet connection, so I called some friends at UNPACU to find out more about Andrés de Carrión’s situation, but discovered that all the phones had been disconnected. It is obvious the order came from State Security, or rather from the “Castros’ Security Service,” because Cuba is a state unlike the majority of democratic countries. Cuba is a dictatorship.

But this how it began. The revolution – I do not put the word in quotation marks because there is no revolution that is just or non-violent – has not changed its face. It has expropriated the property of many families and today that property, beginning with land, belongs to the state rather than to the people.

To execute a person without proving him guilty of a crime, or to arbitrarily deny him his freedom, as in the case of Hubert Matos, are criminal acts. In Cuba people have learned to do things any which way, to feign, to participate in things in which they do not believe so that at least the illusion of security is preserved.

But many mothers, who have sung the official anthems, have also seen their children pulled into the darkness of political prison. Their trials have always lacked basic guarantees. They have been exhibitions, spectacles to manipulate the public, which the dictatorial leadership began to call “the people.” Somewhere I read testimony by Fidel Castro in which he stated that, while Cubans were celebrating in the early hours of January 1, 1959, he was thinking that his revolution would not be understood by everyone. In the recesses of his mind the best Cubans were being drowned. Those who managed to get up on their feet did so like rats.

Here is a pertinent quote I took the trouble to look up in which Fidel Castro speaks as a prosecution witness at the trial of Comandante Hubert Matos Benítez: “I was smiling to myself, but I was smiling with cynicism. I was smiling because I was aware of the phenomenon that would later be produced, because I could not wrap my head around it, because I had been saying for several years that a revolution cannot be good for everyone…”

The most scandalous thing is that Hubert was accused of denouncing the Cuban revolution’s shift to communism. I come back to another quote from Fidel Castro speaking at the trial of Comandante Matos:

“And this is the serious crime, the most serious they have committed, because we will see here if they have reason to accuse the revolution of being communist. And if they are accusing the revolution of being communist, as they are doing as the basis of this trial in order to disparage the revolution, to divide it, to confound it and to bring upon it ever greater threats and dangers, then this is the greatest harm that these comrades, who have turned away from any sense duty, are causing to their nation. (Applause)”

Months after the trial and the sentencing (a prison term of twenty years) the shadowy revolution publicly assumed a socialist character on the corner of 21st and 23rd. Comandante Hubert Matos Benítez appears to have represented the sentiments of the better part of the population of Camagüey to such a degree that afterwards his accuser wasted no time in admitting to having committed perhaps one of the greatest blunders in the history of Cuba:

“What do they want the prime minister of the revolutionary government to do? Wait for this maneuver to go forward? For the the commissioners, the prosecutors and everyone in the province to resign the next day? For all the other officials resign? What is the problem if there is a maneuver here? Because it wil lead to bloodshed here, of course, here no one is going to give way, no one here is going to believe that when a problem arises he is going to give up, even with ten men we are going to face the situation, no matter what, It’s an obvious thing, I just want to bring it to the mind of the Court, the minds of those who are listening, whether in these circumstances the Prime Minister could stay quietly at home in his house.”

*Translator’s note: UNPACU – Spanich acronym for Union Patriotica de Cuba

July 3 2012