Weird History

Los Frikis Were Cuban Punks Who Infected Themselves With HIV To Protest Communism

How far would you go to protest your government? What drastic measures would you take if it meant that you could escape starvation and police brutality? For "los frikis," (pronounced "freakies"), a group of Cuban punks, the answer to that question was that they would intentionally infect themselves with HIV. 

This might seem shocking, short-sighted, or just plain absurd. In many ways, it was. In the late '80s and early '90s, HIV was poorly understood and poorly controlled, and it nearly always led to a slow, painful death from AIDS. But the frikis were living through one of the lowest points in Cuban history. There wasn't enough food, so people stood on long lines for minimal rations. They were beaten and arrested for wearing the "wrong" clothes or listening to the "wrong" music.

Then the Cuban government started doing rigorous HIV tests on its citizens. AIDS had stirred up the world in the 1980s and Cuba took it upon itself to rigorously ferret out causation and solutions. One way they did this was to purposefully infect citizens with HIV and quarantine them in sanatoriums. But the sanatoriums were relatively safe and progressive, so for many frikis, an HIV diagnosis became a way out of the brutality of everyday life - a ticket to life in a sanitarium, where they would be safe from cops and fed regularly. 

Was los frikis' rebellion sad and stupid, or was it brave and totally punk?