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How Cuba’s Friki Punks Infected Themselves With HIV

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a punk rock movement sprung up in Cuba, bringing together a love of music and being an outcast from its state-run society. They called themselves Los Frikis, and they were the scum of the earth as far as the Cuban government was concerned. The discrimination they faced as punks makes the interventions and police beatings that their American counterparts experienced look like summer camps and love taps. Many of the Frikis lived on the streets and had little to no resources or quality of life, and were constantly hounded by police. This was around the same time as the HIV crisis was at its peak in the U.S. and had entered Cuban territory. Castro’s response to the HIV crisis in Cuba was to set up quarantined sanatoriums for those who were infected. Many of the Frikis saw these sanatoriums as an answer to their problems of exclusion, places where they could live together in peace and celebrate the music and culture they had created while being wards of the state. They also saw being HIV positive as a way to reinforce their protest of mainstream Cuban society; a way to further solidify their outcast status. So they infected themselves with HIV purposely. Check out this documentary about the few surviving Frikis, who lived for more than two decades in the government-run sanatoriums, watching most of their friends drop like flies.


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Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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