Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Odyssey of Reporting a Crime in Cuba / Laritza Diversent

The Odyssey of Reporting a Crime in Cuba / Laritza Diversent
Laritza Diversent, Translator: Adam Cooper

Gabriel got up in the morning. He was shocked to find that when going to
shower water was not coming through the rusty pipes of his modest home.
It seemed to him that something wasn't right. He went out onto the patio
and followed the course of the piping until he saw the cut in the
adjoining house.

His neighbor, with whom he had legal problems about the patio
boundaries, had cut the pipe. He stated that he was within his rights to
do so. Gabriel went early on to the nearest police station with the aim
of reporting his neighbor. There the torturous process began.

Upon arriving, a mother was making a fuss because she didn't know to
which police station her detained son had been moved to. After a while
the police, neither willing nor able to give her an answer, took her to
an office. Once they were away from the civilians present, they began to
give support to the exasperated woman.

By then it was eleven in the morning. The plan to get to work for the
evening shift had disintegrated. "I got out of the chair, thinking that
the official in charge of the case had forgotten about me. The official
hardly raised his eyes from his papers and told me to wait," Gabriel

There he stayed seated for three hours, though it almost seemed like
centuries. Then came his turn. The young official started to prepare the
criminal complaint form when he suspended the act and left the office.
Impatient with the delay, Gabriel went over to the file once more.
Behind his desk the agent looked up the crime in the Penal Code that the
claim could be based on.

The reporting party suggested a crime category: arbitrary exercise of
rights. The policeman, offended, claimed he would not file a report
because there had been no crime. Unsatisfied, the reporting party asked
to speak with his superior. After much insistence he succeeded in filing
the complaint. Gabriel returned home exhausted, disappointed, and in a
bad mood.

Stories like this are told more often than one would like. As a result,
when people are victims of a crime, instead of filing a report they say
to themselves with certainty, "Why bother? I'd just lose the whole day
doing it and nothing would get resolved." So says Caridad, victim of a
robbery at her house a year ago. Her items have not been recovered.

This rude behavior violates the penal legislation in force regarding
criminal complaint filing procedure and the behavior of the police when
they have knowledge of a crime. The lack of human sensitivity of the
uniformed officers and their poor judicial training stand in the way on
the road to justice. Thus, more and more each day, the public loses
confidence in the authorities.

Translated by: Adam Cooper

January 6 2012

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