While the harassment of dissident journalists, the alternative civil society and independent citizens grows, a dangerous epidemic of violence seems to be taking over Havana. Common crimes, primarily aggravated crimes against people, have been unleashed recently and have begun to sow terror in a society already sufficiently troubled by the uncertainty imposed by survival and by the insecurity that is produced by the lack of a program to address the general crisis in which we live.
The new sign of the deterioration of the moral character has emerged with vigor when delinquency of the lowest kind seems to have taken the over the city: assaults and murders at knifepoint, dismemberment, chopping up of bodies, rapes, armed robberies, beatings, muggings, violence and lack of control, among others, are events that happen at any time of the day or night, either on the street or at home. They have been occurring with truly alarming frequency without, apparently, the police doing much to put a stop to it in order to ensure public peace. After decades of shortages and loss of values, the absence of perspective on the part of the extreme marginal segments is heading towards our worst nightmare.
Social violence in response to anger and helplessness of great segments of the disadvantaged is a major disaster affecting us all. The generalized failure of the system is beginning to be reflected now in the official failure to prevent and suppress the increase in common crimes that are becoming more and more violent each time.
One of the most alarming indicators is the high incidence of young people with delinquent tendencies. The presence of young crowds traveling by bus late at night, consuming alcohol and drugs, shouting or singing loudly, threatening other passengers, causing arguments and even robbing victims at knifepoint has become commonplace. The impunity with which these gangs appear to act, and at times the probable collusion with the staff of the local bus terminals, are absolutely disconcerting. Several witnesses swear they have suffered such experiences in buses that already had the crew of undesirable young outlaws on board when they pulled out of the Palatino bus Terminal.
While the safety of the population begins to turn into a real game of chance, all the energy of the repressive bodies seems to concentrate on what they consider the main danger: the peaceful bearers of alternative independent thought. In the last few months, systematic harassment of varying intensity has been sustained against this segment in particular. Writers, journalists and independent bloggers, as well as their families, live under constant harassment and police surveillance. Arrests, summonses, interrogations, threats and unjustified detentions are part of the repertoire. Today, Cuba is a kind of surreal parade ground where writing or speaking a free opinion turns out to be officially more punishable than slashing the throat of a relative or raping a teenager. The power mongers, who do not travel by bus or live in our common neighborhoods, believe that silencing independent thought, the only stronghold of health in an acutely ill society, will keep them safe in their comfortable niches. They have never been more wrong.