Famed for its classic cars, ice-cold mojito cocktails and diverse history, Cuba is now also making headlines for a very different reason.
In fact, the island is renowned for its incredibly low levels of violent crime.
While the Cuban government has been accused of preventing press outlets from accessing official statistics in relation to crime rates in Havana and beyond, firearms related crimes remain a rare occurrence in the country, according to an article by BBC Mundo.
In fact, Fidel Castro’s government is charged with quashing many basic human rights of the country’s citizens, ridding Cuba of social issues that plague other neighboring Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Colombia.
Not forgetting the famous Revolutionary Defense Committees (Comités de Defensa de la Revolución), neighborhood watch groups charged with maintaining the peace across Cuba’s towns and cities.
More recently, an artist known as ‘El Sexto’ was imprisoned for a year after painting two pigs entitled ‘Raúl’ and ‘Fidel’ in a public square, in an act deemed a crime against the revolution.
Just before Christmas 2015, 28-year-old medical student Mbuti Twala was killed during what was believed to be a drunken bar brawl in the city of Santiago de Cuba. The student, who was studying the island’s health system is the latest foreign victim to make international headlines, partly as Twala’s murder is so unusual.
Cuba is ranked alongside Chile and Argentina as the countries with the lowest homicide rates across Latin America, according to a report produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
During 2012, a total of 4.2 murders were reported per 100,000 people in Cuba. In Chile the total reported was only 3.1, daily La Nación reports.
Such a lack of information is only set to add fuel to the fire. While Cuba is set to see a marked increase tourism, thanks to new airline routes between the U.S. and easier tourist card application processes, surely the island will expect a rise in petty crime. While Cuban government continues to maintain control over businesses and shops, surely temptation will be too great for opportunists?
Not to mention the lack of lighting in Havana’s streets. Just several blocks back from the hustle and bustle of the seafront Malecón, tourists will find themselves plunged into darkness, with one or two sole bulbs illuminating entire blocks.
Then of course there are ongoing U.S. claims that Cuba had previously harbored members of terrorist groups or criminals who remain on the country’s most wanted lists. The most notorious case being that of Joanne Chesimard, former head of the Black Liberation Front. The 65-year-old was granted asylum on the island in 1984. U.S. bureau the FBI believe that she has lived in Cuba for over 30 years, according to El Salvador.
Change is certainly afoot in Cuba. Yet as to whether the island retains its apparent low levels of crime and reduced murder rates will all depend on how President Raúl Castro rides the ongoing cash injection.