14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 22 December 2018 — Gelaisy Cantero de los Santos, a young woman of 31, filed a complaint Thursday against the driver of a state-run bus in Havana who insulted her with a phrase with racist connotations, she herself reported to 14ymedio.
Cantero, who has a degree in Physical Culture and Sports, believes that she was the victim of discriminatory offenses when, on Wednesday afternoon, while traveling on the P5 route from the Playa municipality to the Vedado neighborhood, the bus driver repeatedly shouted at her “Shut up, monkey!”
According to the young woman, when she got on the bus she noticed that the lady ahead of her had a 50 CUP note in her hand, a high amount for a fare that costs 0.40 CUP. Cantero offered to pay for both their fares with 1 CUP (roughly 4¢ US) and thus avoid the cumbersome process of currency exchange.
However, the driver did not accept the offer and when the young woman insisted on helping the other passenger, the man shouted “Shut up, monkey!” Stonecutter claims to have been “perplexed” by the insult. “I did not enter into a debate because I thought there had to be some way to denounce and make public this offense.”
The driver continued insulting the young woman, calling her names such as “stupid, busybody, illiterate,” before the astonishment and inaction of most of the passengers in the bus. The state employee also reproached her for using the public bus and not taking a taxi.
Cantero took a photo of the aggressor, an image that has been included in the legal complaint that she has just presented. “I turned to a group that defends the rights of women and the LGBTI community, as well as fighting against violence against women and racism.” The Afro-Cuban Alliance assisted her in presenting her claim to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Provincial Department of Transportation, in addition to a complaint to the National Revolutionary Police (PNR).
The Office of the Prosecutor will evaluate the case and, within a period that expires on January 15, Cantero will have an answer on the next steps that must be followed. Meanwhile, the Provincial Department of Transportation can take up to 60 days to analyze what happened and determine a penalty against the employee.
This Friday Cantero visited the facility the P5 operates from and met with the directors and the aggressor. The employee admitted what happened and apologized, but the young woman has decided to continue with the complaint because she considers that her case is not an isolated incident.
“Racism exists,” she stresses. In any place or institution “we are attacked all the time, out of racism, attacks against an adult person, against women, homosexuals, it is a constant aggression.”
“The driver made a mistake because I’m not going to shut up, I’ll take it as far as it goes, for me and for people to realize that they have the right to complain,” the woman concludes.
In July of last year, a private transporter was denounced by law student Yanay Aguirre Calderín after the man told her that “every time a black person rides in my car it’s the same” and that’s why he could not stand them.
In an unprecedented journalistic gesture, the case reached the official media. After the accusation of the young woman the man faced a complaint for the Offense Against the Right of Equality, established in article 295 of the Penal Code.
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