The Interior Ministry believes that several gangs are “spreading terror” in Santiago de Cuba.

Young people, armed with knives and machetes, organized into violent gangs. These are members of several “groups” that are “spreading terror” in Santiago de Cuba, according to an Interior Ministry lieutenant colonel during a recent public appearance.

A video of the meeting, released by independent journalist Yosmani Mayeta, shows dozens of residents of the Abel Santamaría district of Santiago listening to the officer’s intervention, surrounded by other police officers. Their objective: to report on the arrest of five young members of a gang who had attacked a cafeteria on the morning of January 7, brandishing knives.

The lieutenant colonel insisted that it was an “organized group”, and that the attack ended with minor injuries to an employee – from whom they took clothes and money – and a customer whose “right hand was cut off” when he was attacked by the attackers. Was trying to escape with another person. According to Mayeta, the mutilated man – whom the officer did not recognize – is David Enrique Perdomo Álvarez, a lineman for the Santiago Electric Company. “He is still recovering,” according to the recording.

To the soldier, it’s a “misdemeanor” that the five gang members share with many other criminals in Santiago de Cuba

For the soldier, it is “inappropriate conduct” that the five gang members share with many other criminals in Santiago de Cuba. “We know who they are and we are going to go after them,” he promised, speaking on behalf of “all bodies” of the interior ministry he brought with him. He said that, after interrogating the five detainees, he gathered more information about “the various groups operating in these places” and “in addition, in the city of Santiago.”

The Lieutenant Colonel did not hesitate in making promises to the population. “These types of incidents cannot continue with us. We are going to take strict action. You will be punished, have confidence,” he said, before a woman interrupted him and said she had “lost” faith in the police. It is done. At one place”. He then told the story of his son, who is a university professor, who is missing a leg, and who was attacked by two masked men on May 7, 2023. He said, “They put a sheet over him “, tied him by the neck and dragged him to the door of his house.”

“Up until this moment, no one came to my house to tell me ‘this has been done, that has been done,'” lamented the woman, who said she would refer the case to the prosecutor’s office given the prosecutor’s inaction. Had taken. Police. He concluded, “I come back and repeat: I trust (the authorities), but right now I don’t even know what to say.”

It “was a negative experience,” said the lieutenant colonel, who stammered that he had no knowledge of the situation and promised to review the matter. The woman’s reaction to the officer’s promise was blunt: “I don’t trust anyone right now.”

“They haven’t solved the cases that have happened, how do they expect people to trust them”

In his comments on the video, Mayetta claimed to have interviewed one of the attendees of the meeting in the Abel Santamaria neighborhood, a public health worker who asked not to be identified, and who said that “There’s not just one gang” but several. “They haven’t solved the cases that have happened, how do they expect people to trust them,” he said.

The surge of violence in Cuba has spiraled out of control of the authorities, who in most cases opt for inaction and establish zones of “tolerance” for crime in the island’s cities, where patrols do not dare to roam.

On January 5, when the police celebrated its founding anniversary, its vice president at Sancti Spiritus requested that, to face “the current context of the country”, the state should provide “new equipment, tools, vehicles and technologies” to uniformed personnel. Do” to correct the mechanism of monitoring and patrolling system. Similar requests were made at events organized in police honor across the country.

The growing insecurity on the island’s streets is impossible to hide and demands more and more space in the official press. Despite the fact that the police deny it, curfew is a reality in many places. Authorities in Alquizar, Artemisa province, denied that it was possible to leave homes after midnight. However, this newspaper collected several testimonies about the ban and confirmed that patrols were deployed on the municipality’s routes to enforce it.

However, the curfew is increasingly a measure of self-preservation on the part of residents. Whether the police recommend it or not, no Cuban dares walk alone through the streets in the early morning.

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