“We’re Not Moving From Here,” Insist Travelers Stranded at Havana’s Airport

A video shows the chaos that exists in Terminal 2 of Havana’s airport. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 January 2020 — Hundreds of travelers are stranded in Cuba after the Government’s January 1st decision to reduce flights to and from the United States and five other countries, to try to stop the rebound of Covid-19 on the island.

Hundreds of travelers arrived in the country in December and were scheduled to return in the first days of January, but their flights were canceled at Terminal 2 of the José Martí International Airport in Havana.

“My brother and I have been here for two full days, feeling cold and thirsty to see if we can leave,” Sayuri, a Cuban living in Texas who has not been able to leave Havana due to lack of flights, tells this newspaper.

“We signed up on a list and we have a number over 300 but we aren’t moving from here, although they told us that they would call us by phone, because there is a lot of corruption and people who pay are put ahead of others.” The emigrant says that climbing quickly in the list “costs between 150 and 200 dollars right now.”

A video that has gone viral on digital platforms shows the chaos that exists in Terminal 2 of the capital city’s airport, where desperate travelers crowd, without social distancing and without knowing what will happen to their return tickets. They have come to the airport with their luggage and are looking for answers.

The government’s announcement to reduce the entry of travelers brought with it a wave of cancellations of airlines flying to the island.

Terminal 2, which connects the Cuban capital with the United States, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and Germany, is not in a position to hold so many people, it is narrow and looks like a “container,” with few food options and bathrooms.

The other countries affected by the reduction in flights (Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Bahamas and the Dominican Republic) also serve as stopovers for travelers passing through a third country to avoid US sanctions.

The Cuban government asserted that international travelers’ contacts with other people represent “71.5% of the total cases detected in recent weeks, the vast majority associated with Cuban citizens” from the countries that were restricted.

From January 10, the health authorities will require a negative PCR test for covid-19 from all international travelers. The requirement includes that the test be carried out in a certified laboratory in the country of origin and carried out within a period of 72 hours before arrival in Cuba.

The official number of daily infections of Covid-19 on the island has remained at more than 160 for six days. This Wednesday the Ministry of Health reported 201 new cases, of which 123 were contacts of confirmed cases, 65 arrived infected from abroad and 13 without a specified source of infection.

Since the pandemic began last March, the country has confirmed 13,165 people with Coronavirus and 148 have died from the disease (in a population of just over 11 million). Currently, all provinces are infected and 1,746 patients remain as active cases.


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