14ymedio, Havana, January 22, 2020 – The same scene is repeated day after day. Hundreds of passengers crowd in the Bus Terminal of Havana and in the absence of enough seats, some make themselves comfortable by sitting on the floor, or on the projections of a wall. Without knowing it, they commit an infraction that can end in a fine, as happened on Tuesday to several university students.
That day during the afternoon, an inspector imposed fines of 100 cuban pesos each to a group of young people who had sat down on a small wall inside the bus station while they waited for the transportation to take them to their destination.
The inspector sanctioned the young people because they had allegedly violated Decree Law 272, especially article 17, which considers an infraction to affect “by any form or means, wall, facades, sidewalks, doors, windows or any part of the exterior of buildings, cinemas, theaters, hotels, elevators or other premises open to the public. “
The text regulates behaviors in the matter of Territorial and Urban Planning and punishes those who damage decorations, the communal hygiene and monuments. Often it is also applied in public spaces such as bus terminals and government offices, which generates much discomfort among citizens who stick up for themselves by appealing to the lack of facilities while waiting for service.
“Who likes sitting on a wall when you can be in a seat with more comfort?” asks Dayana Peña, who witnessed the incident at the main interprovincial bus station in Havana and often frequents those installations. “This place has no facilities for the number of people who spend hours waiting.”
The young woman, who lives in Matanzas and travels every week to the Cuban capital, says that “instead of improving the situation so that passengers who pay for the service do not go through all these inconveniences, they want to fix the matter by imposing fines.” She says she has even seen “people who have ended up at a police station for arguing over the inspector’s fine.”
In her Facebook account another witness, Diraine Aguiar, denounced the case, which immediately prompted several comments of solidarity with the young people and complaints about the state of the terminal, which was the subject of a capital repair program recently.
“They gave me an unjust fine for sitting and leaning against a little wall of the terminal. Me and two other students,” said one of those affected by the penalty on condition of anonymity. The young man said that many passengers showed their solidarity with the students and complained to the inspector for her harshness and for not taking into account the infrastructure problems of the terminal.
Although the inspector who imposed the fine was not identified, it is known that it is Teresa Fernández. Last December, Fernández was the target of a complaint made on the social networks by a self-employed worker who was also fined for selling his products outside the municipality where he has his self-employed license.
In the incident on Tuesday, “the fine has no legal basis, for several reasons, but especially because there was no sign that prohibited sitting in that place, in addition to the fact that people were forced to sit on the ground including the elderly and disabled because in the waiting list room there were about 200 people and only about 25 seats”, explained one of the fined individuals to this newspaper.
“The inspectors arrived and went directly to where we were sitting, no one from the terminal management intervened to explain the situation nor did any employee call to our attention the matter prior to the incident, the first complaint was to impose the fine of 100 cuban pesos, which is a lot of money for a student who has no income of his own,” he claimed.
A few hours later, the inspectors were still prowling around the place. “This terminal is a disaster, they demand a lot and do very little,” a passenger waiting to travel to Sancti Spiritus complained at nightfall. “They demand a lot from customers but the bathroom is a disaster, there is not a single drinking fountain, everything they sell to eat and drink is very expensive and to top it off there is almost no place to sit.
The woman, who was traveling with her two daughters, improvised a seat in a corner with some luggage and a cardboard box. “The floor is cold but that’s what it is because the seats are all full and nobody wants to risk a fine for leaning against the wall.”
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
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