If You Defy the System


Yuniel is eighteen. He does not work; he left his studies after completing high school. He spends the mornings in the park with friends. Likewise the afternoons, but with the addition of a bottle of rum passing from hand to hand.

There have been several unsolved burglaries in the neighborhood. Those from the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) are suspicious of him. They wonder where he gets the money to dress well and be continually celebrating. The CDR surveillance team has seen him return home drunk well into the night, although without bothering anyone.

The CDR knows that Yuniel does “business,” but they haven’t been able to determine what kind. At the monthly meeting of the neighborhood Social Prevention Committee, his name came up as a potential criminal. Social workers persuaded him to find employment. The chief of the local police precinct issued an official warning for antisocial behavior and gave him an ultimatum.

Yuniel began working as a custodian in a State-owned company.  His monthly salary of 275 pesos was not enough to help with household expenses and take his girlfriend out. The precarious economic situation at home forced him to quit his job and return to his previous work, pirating foreign television programs on DVDs, which gave him financial solvency.

This caused the precinct chief to issue him two more warnings. The city prosecutor asked the court to charge him with “pre-criminal social dangerousness.”

Yuniel never burgled any neighbor’s house, he never trafficked in or did drugs, he never assaulted anyone in public. But he was imprisoned in a correctional facility, sentenced to do agricultural work for one year and six months. This is the fate of young people who, in order to become economically independent, defy the system.

Laritza Divertsent

Translated by: Tomás A. & LJM

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