Jimmy Roque Martinez
HAVANA TIMES — Some people usually sell goods on Tulipan Street, in the Revolution Square municipality, just like they do in almost every neighborhood throughout the country. Generally-speaking, these are industrial and/or craft goods, and the people selling them are people aged 65 years old and over, many of whom have already retired.
I have seen policemen, along with inspectors, fining these street vendors on many occasions, and there is almost always a particular policeman who is tall and imposing in manner.
Not too long ago, I witnessed how this policeman, this time dressed as a civilian, fined an old lady, with the help of two inspectors. Minutes later, they took her merchandise to a police truck that was parked nearby.
That’s when I made my way towards them and asked where the goods that had been taken off sellers, who had already received fines, would go.
Of course, the plain clothes policeman asked who I was, before answering that the goods are kept in inspector warehouses and are then used to replenish stock at stores or markets, depending on the item in question.
That’s when I asked if it would be possible to corroborate the fact that this mechanism works properly, as it is common knowledge that policemen and inspectors pocket confiscated goods for themselves a lot of the time.
The plain clothes policeman told me that he wasn’t obliged to give me any explanations, and that he only needs to answer to the Ministry of Interior and State Security, trying to void my right to question him.
During our conversation, the policeman showed me his identification to show me that he really was a policeman, while the two women who were accompanying him did the same and identified themselves as inspectors.
Every public authority should be obliged to give any citizen explanations and report back whenever a citizen asks them to; but we already know that talking about rights in Cuba is extremely suspicious.
If Cuba was really a socialist country, if its modes of production really were the peoples, then they would be compelled to give account for their management; but because that isn’t the case, the only thing that is promoted here is that corruption spreads and grows in every sector.
It’s a well-known fact that salaries here in Cuba aren’t enough for people to live a dignified life and that pensions for civilians are measly, while the cost of living is becoming more and more expensive.
One of the causes (among many others) is the fact that we are still keeping an army up and running and such a large police force, without them having any real work to do, who are used to confiscate lighters and cigarette packs from old people on the streets of this city because they have no real military maneuvers to do.
We need to fight for our civil rights and for citizen control so as to put an end to corruption and the privileges that the Cuban military and political elite enjoy.