Monday, November 30, 2015

Is it a Crime to Go for a Walk with a Foreigner in Havana?

Is it a Crime to Go for a Walk with a Foreigner in Havana?
November 24, 2015
Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — I still haven't managed to let go of the anger or
overcome the surprise.

While strolling down a street in Old Havana next to a foreign friend of
mine, a police officer stopped me to ask me the most ludicrous questions
I've heard.

I don't want to embellish or distort the events with flowery prose. I
will try to offer a faithful transcription of the conversation I had
with this police officer, as I recall it.

"Good evening, citizen. May I see your ID, please," said the officer.

"Yes, of course," I replied.

"Is he your husband?" he asked, pointing at my friend, who was standing
nearby, unable to understand what was going on, as he doesn't understand


"Then, what are you doing with him?"

"We're walking around the city. Is that a crime?"

"Are you a tour guide?"

"No, I'm an art historian and he's an artist. We're preparing an
exhibition that will open in Cuba very soon."

"And how do I know what you're telling me is true? Do you have any
papers on you?"

"I don't have any documents on me, not even a student ID, because I'm no
longer a student. But, if you wish, we can head down to my place and I
can show you my degree. Or perhaps you can go to my place of work and
confirm all of this."

The officer remained quiet.

He hands my ID to another police officer, who asks me the same question
the first did:

"Is he your husband?"

"No," I replied, and proceeded to tell him the same story.

This officer tried to see if I had a criminal record over the radio,
fruitlessly, as they had communication problems.

He gave me back my ID and I stood there, waiting for a reply, perhaps
even an apology for having wasted my time, anything.

Nothing. Seeing I wasn't leaving, he told me I could "continue on my
way," with a tone suggesting he had nothing more to say to me.

I was left perturbed and confused. I think I need to read my country's
laws more carefully and see how much of a right they have to unjustly
question who I walk with or talk to.

Source: Is it a Crime to Go for a Walk with a Foreigner in Havana? -
Havana -

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