Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. “Think before you speak, especially in front of others,” my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

The worst months in the year

Paula Henriquez

Havana P8 bus. Photo: youtube.com

HAVANA TIMES — Word has it that there are some people who are taking advantage of any situation and robbing what they can find: wallets, cellphones, money… They can do this on a guagua (bus), in a taxi, in a disorganized crowd.

I’m well aware that this happens in many countries, but today I’m talking about Havana.

Some thieves have other methods; a friend was asked for the time and as she wasn’t wearing a watch, she took out her cellphone to be so kind and tell the other person when she was attacked. My friend was very brave, she didn’t let go of the phone not even when they threw her on the ground and kicked her. Luckily, it wasn’t too serious and she only had a few minor bruises.

Another person I know told me how in the bright of day, a man approached her and literally punched her to take her chain. Half the girl’s face was swollen and right now, she was waiting to see a doctor as we had gone to the doctor’s office. “If he had just asked me, I would have given it to him,” she said.

A few days ago, a news feature was shown on TV that told us of how four “criminals”, who dedicated themselves to stealing on buses, were caught. They would stick their hands in bags, pockets, wherever they needed to to take the few belongings or little money this person had. It was, quite simply, a small business which seems to be very lucrative because there are quite a few victims.

The thing is that every year, when the end of the year approaches, and while it may seem redundant, crime multiplies even more, yes because we have crime, always. It gets worse precisely because it’s the end of the year and a lot of people go crazy to get their hands on a bit of cash, “easy money” for the holidays.

So walk carefully, nobody is exempt from being robbed, although the most vulnerable are women in this case. Nevertheless, you can never be too careful.

  • Eden Wong

    This is always a bad time of year in Havana. Everyone wants extra money and petty crime goes through the roof. Thank God most of the robberies are simple crimes of opportunity and not violent, but even that is sadly changing.

  • Jessica

    In february of this year I had to stop in the Canadian Embassy in Havana before going to my final destination: Baracoa, Gtmo. In our way back from the Embassy around late morning we found a girl reclined to a tree and as we walked by , she left herself fall to the ground. We runned to her and I asisted her with first aid. She was stabbed in her lower back and her purse with her tablet, phone and wallet were gone. She said she was on imo 10 min ago in a near by wifi hot spot . She noticed the man walking behind her all the way but this area is quite bussy with traffic and there are many restaurants and stores so you will see plenty of pedestrians as well and she didnt worry. We called her mother from my phone and took the girl to the hospital. We were so thankful to the taxi driver that didnt charge us. When we arrived in the hospital a friend of the family was there while the mother was on her way. We couldn’t believe how our morning ended up but luckily the wound wasn’t any deep. The girl say the man first grabbed her bag and she didnt let go so he took out his pocket knife and stabbed her. Back in the scene we asked for help to several people. Some volunteers including an icaic worker went around several blocks in his car searching for the individual but not luck. In conclusion, big cities have desperate people at all times and Havana is a fairly populated one. Everyone be aware times have changed and anyone willing to robbe you will most likely have a little weapon hidden. Myself I dont walk around Havana with high valued items. My phone, jewelry and camera stays in wherever place I am rented, specially if it is one of those days I dont have a car to move around and have to rely on public transportation which somentimes I like to do as part of my adventure. Good luck to all Havana lovers like me!!!

    • Eden Wong

      Even though it was a horrible situation that’s a very nice write-up Jessica, good on you for being a decent human being.

      All the best to you.

      • Jessica

        Thank you!!! One of the best investments I have made is learning CPR and First Aid. It really save lives!!!

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          Hope you enjoyed Baracoa Jessica, you earned the break!