Friday, August 29, 2014

You Can’t Come In

You Can't Come In / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez
Posted on August 28, 2014

14ymedio, Havana, Rosa Lopez, 27 August 2014 – "You can't come in," a
young doorkeeper emphatically tells a young man, while gesturing for him
to move away from the door. When the target protests, he receives the
explanation that in this crowded Havana club, "you can't enter wearing
shorts." A sign posted at the entrance warns that the place, "reserves
the right of admission."

The story is repeated in many other places in Havana. The Charles
Chaplin Cinema downtown posts a sign with entry restrictions. When you
ask an employee if the rules are dictated by higher body, she says, "No,
no. Management is in charge, there's no law. We are the ones who
decide." And she adds, "We don't allow people without shirts, or wearing
flipflops, or behaving inappropriately." It's not unusual to see,
however, flexible rules for foreigners. An Italian in short shorts—which
could be confused with a bathing suit—passed through the lobby without
being ejected.

In 2010, the Chaplin Cinema refused entry to a group of people trying to
attend the premier of the documentary Revolution about the hip-hop group
Los Aldeanos. Some of these citizens drafted a legal demand against the
entity, charging that the segregation was based on ideological reasons,
because they were activists, bloggers and musicians from the dissident
scene, but it was unsuccessful in court. Years later, the downtown movie
theater still sports a sign with restrictions on entry.

Welcome Cubans, but…

In 2008, one of the first steps taken by Raul Castro on assuming power
was to allow Cubans access to hotels. According to the General
President, that decision was meant to avoid the emergence of "new
inequalities." Nevertheless, native Cubans still can't enjoy all the
recreational areas of the country. The boats that run along the coast,
the marine enclaves along stretches of the coast, and some keys still do
not allow Cubans residing on the Island where they were born.

By the Bay of Cienfuegos a pleasure boat sails which doesn't allow any
Cubans to enjoy the excursion.

By the Bay of Cienfuegos a pleasure boat sails which doesn't allow any
Cubans to enjoy the excursion. The reason, according to several dock
workers, is fear that that the boat could be hijacked in an illegal
attempt to leave the country. The argument reveals the drama of
emigration, but also the continuing existence of an apartheid that makes
those born in this land second-class citizens. The measure also violates
the Cuban Constitution which guarantees, in Article 43, that all Cubans
have the right to use, "without segregation, maritime, rail, air and
road transport."

So far, there are no national guidelines that justify such segregation
procedures, especially in State facilities, where it is established that
they are projected by law. Outside Pepitos Bar, located on 26th Avenue
downtown, there is a sign that shows the use and abuse of the right
admission "They are rules imposed by the administration," says a worker
at the center who didn't want his name revealed.

The existing Penal Code establishes one to three years imprisonment or a
300,000 share* fine for an official who arbitrarily exceeds the legal
limits of his or her competency. However, none of the lawyers consulted
by this newspaper could remember a trial against any administrator or
director of a public facility for irregularities in the "right of

The "house rules" that govern some public sites in Cuba go against even
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to its Article 133,
"Every person as the right to circulate freely," and Article 27 also
adds that every citizen "has the right to freely form a part of the
cultural life of the community."

Several State restaurants on Obispo Street prohibit nationals from
talking with tourists.

Attorney Wilfredo Vallín, director of the Cuban Law Association,
published an article on the site Primavera Digital (Digital Spring), in
which he asserted that "restricting, and at the extreme not permitting,
access to public places to people who behave correctly, don't cause
disturbances, don't bother anyone, is illegal."

Several State restaurants on Obispo Street prohibit nationals from
talking with tourists. Management claims the right to expel people from
the premises under the pretext that they are annoying foreign customers.
However, cases of verbal reprimands or expulsions of tourists for
annoying a Cuban with their insinuations or proposals are unheard of.
Having a passport from another country appears to grant carte blanche in
these situations.

*Translator's note: Under Cuban law fines are set as a number of
"shares"; the value of a single share can then be adjusted, affecting
all the fines, without having to rewrite every law.

Source: You Can't Come In / 14ymedio, Rosa Lopez | Translating Cuba -

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