'Hot Avocado', A Viral Video Infuriates Cubans / 14ymedio
Note to viewers of the video: This video was taken by the police, and as
can be seen with careful viewing, the uniformed officers are not the
only enforcers in this video; many plainclothes officers are also present.
14ymedio, Havana, 7 January 2017 — Images of a police operation against
informal fruit and vegetable sellers fill the viral video that is
infuriating Cubans. Although the event occurred in mid-August 2016 in
Old Havana, when some people uploaded it to Facebook, only in December
was the recording leaked to alternative networks where it now is being
The video shows the most agitated moment of a trifling occurrence on the
corner of Aguacate and O'Reilly streets in the historic center of
Havana. A pushcart vendor is arrested by the police, who confiscate his
merchandise, while onlookers gather all around so as not to miss what is
The minutes, captured by one of the plainclothes officers who
participated in the arrest, show popular outrage at the event, which
some present called "abuse." The harshness of the vendor's beating at
the hands of plainclothes officer is also captured in the video.
According to witness statements gathered this week at the scene, the
incident began when a police officer detained an avocado seller who did
not have a license to sell agricultural products. The vendor's
resistance and the subsequent action to overcome it, sparked solidarity
and protests among those passing by this busy intersection.
"Every now and then something like this happens," confesses Luisín, a
pedicab driver who covers the route between the Fraternity Park and the
historic center. The man remembers the arrest last August and says that,
"for days the neighborhood did not talk about anything else, because it
The same corner is a focal point and meeting place for the police who
staged the operation. "We have to show an iron fist against the
illegalities, because we can't have people getting rich selling food to
the population," Veronica, a retiree and habitué of the place, told this
The police video not only documents the moments of greatest violence,
but also seems to have the express purpose of recording the faces of
those who reacted with the greatest dissatisfaction to the police operation.
The official offensive against the pushcart vendors started last
January, after a sharp rise in food prices. The government imposed price
caps at some points of sale in the capital, closed the El Trigal
wholesale market, and unleashed a concentrated raid against street
vendors selling fruits and vegetables.
However, twelve months after the start of the offensive, food prices
have not dropped as much as the authorities hoped and informal sellers
have again proliferated all along Aguacate Street.
In the face of the problems of supply and low productivity, the
government plans to import 1.75 billion dollars worth of food in 2017,
about 82 million dollars more than in 2016.
Source: 'Hot Avocado', A Viral Video Infuriates Cubans / 14ymedio –
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