Several building facades of Central Havana display a very unique graffiti that has appeared in recent days. The image shows a uniformed National Revolutionary Police (PNR) officer accompanied by a dog with whom he shares the same face, snout, teeth and fierce gesture. Man and animal have the appearance of being alert, the ears attentive and an aggressive look, as if about to launch themselves on their prey. The graffiti alludes, without subtleties, to the police violence and aggression that characterizes this body of public order in Cuba.
For several years it has been common to see police accompanied by German shepherd dogs in the central zones of the Cuban capital. The area surrounding the Capitol, the areas near the Central Park, the busiest parts of Monte Street and even the most entertaining corners of La Rampa are a frequent stop for these officers accompanied by their dogs. Next to the whistle, the night stick and the walkie-talkie, the dog is already a distinctive sign of their presence.
That era during which television broadcast an announcement in which a small child claimed “police, police you are my friend,” has also been forgotten. Now, the members of the PNR are viewed with much distrust and fear by the population. The excesses committed during the arbitrary arrests, the fines and the detentions without cause have sufficiently stained their reputation, disseminated by the new technologies, have left testimony of the injustices or the excessive blows of these uniformed ones.
Part of that fear and suspicion has been captured by the graffiti artist in which the fierce irrationality of the animal is shared by a human being who should maintain order, not provoke violence or fear.
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria