Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From Golfito to intensive care

Rolando is 42 and his daughter is 19, they like to dance and on occasion they went to a discotheque together, although they don’t go any more. On December 16, 2008 they’d been at Golfito, a disco in Rio Cristal, left at 2:30 in the morning and got on the route 160 bus to go home. A group of guys who had also been at the discotheque got on the bus with them.

I remember that at this time people were playing rumba music on the buses, and also there were many attacks on passengers and drivers, mostly in the early morning. The police then decided to put an armed officer to keep order on every bus after dark. The idea, at least to me, was quite comforting (except for the gun), but what happens in Cuba is that civil order and military discipline are synonymous. People began to protest because now they couldn’t play rumba and once even Ciro was not allowed to play a few chords (without lyrics) on the guitar.

They were also playing a reggaetón and singing on Rolando’s number 160 bus. Most unfortunately, that night the police were dressed as civilians although they kept one thing from the uniform, the revolver. They began to argue with the guys and ordered them off the bus, the bus was full and when the atmosphere becomes angry people tend to panic; it was no different in this case. The police ordered the bus to stop but didn’t let the doors open, they wanted to round up the culprits so they couldn’t escape and into the early morning Boyeros. Everyone wanted to leave and it got ugly and one of the cops (there were two of them) pulled out his gun and fired it inside the bus several times.

The terror was uncontrollable, people flew out through the windows and eventually they opened the doors and everyone tried to leave at the same time. Rolando grabbed his eldest daughter and when he put a foot on the pavement he felt a sharp pain in his left leg and fainted.

The next day he woke up in intensive care in the military hospital, with two cops on either side and from far away he heard the voice of his mother berating those in uniform in the room. The shot had gone through the left thigh and exited, they had reconstructed his femoral artery and the doctor told him it was a “miracle” that he was alive. Five other people had also been injured.

He spent a year unable to work, they gave him leave without pay which he didn’t manage to contest, he tried to line up some attorneys himself but it didn’t go very far. Nothing happened to the cops who fired the gun and Rolando assured me that a few days later he read in an article in the newspaper Granma talking about how well the new measure of putting the police force on the buses was working… apparently some police officials had been decorated, according to the official organ of the Communist Party. Rolando stopped limping only a few months ago and he’s convinced of one thing: he and all of us are undefended in this country.

1 comment:

johnwilpers said...

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