Human Rights in Cuba

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Waiting for help
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Terminals Overwhelmed By Hundreds Of Travelers Without Tickets /
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez

14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 27 December 2016 – Hundreds of
people are crowded right now in the “last hour” bus terminals, or are on
the waiting lists. With the regularly scheduled seats sold out,
travelers sleep in the floors of these places and eat frugally, while
dreaming of a vehicle that will get them home to spend New Year’s with
their families.

In mid-December, the newspaper Granma reported that the Voyager Company
would put on sale new seats for interprovincial for the end
the year. However, the tickets sold out in a couple of days and
thousands of customers have been left stranded at “last hour” terminals
throughout the country.

This time, unlike other years, the so-called “waiting list” was not
addressed with a greater number of vehicles. The Business Group of
Automotive Transport Services preferred to sell in advance the
additional tickets to between 22 December 2016 and 7 January 2017.

The state transport company sold 9,000 seats above those offered by the
regular National Bus Service, but only the most forward-thinking were
able to get the tickets. The agencies that sell the tickets experienced
days of huge crowds, and five days after the official announcement,
tickets to Camaguey and Guantanamo were sold out.

Private transport companies provide only a little relief. Their high
prices make it difficult for many travelers to use their services,
because they can only afford the state rates.

“I know the face of almost everyone here, because most of these people
have been here for many days,” confides the employee who takes care of
the men’s toilet in the Villanueva last hour station in Havana. Chaos
and discouragement reigns in the facilities, where the average stay is
“four or five days” according to the worker.

“The are coercing people to get them to leave,” he explained to
14ymedio freelance reporter Juannier Matos Rodriguez, who was waiting in
Villanueva Monday to travel to Baracoa, Guantanamo. Entire families have
placed cardboard on the floor to sleep and the uniformed police patrol
the place.

“Several passengers have approached the employees asking for them to
arrange extra buses so that all these families can travel, but they do
not respond,” says the young man. “The waiting list for Santiago de Cuba
is not moving, it’s been stuck on the same numbers for two days,” he adds.

The most desperate, with the resources available, pay between 14 and 15
Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) for a ride on a private truck bound for
Santiago de Cuba, twice as much as the state bus. These are cargo
vehicles re-configured for the transport of passengers. The best ones
have cushy seats and even air conditioning, but in most cases they are
uncomfortable and hot.

The National Bus Company serves 132 routes and in the first nine months
of this year it moved 7.6 million people, but when holidays approach,
the system collapses in the face of high demand. Most of the state-owned
equipment is Yutong brand buses from , with a decade of overuse and
poor mechanical conditions.

The deterioration of the vehicles has combined this year with cuts in
fuel consumption that affect the entire country. Passenger transport has
been among the sectors most affected, although the government has also
imposed restrictions on electricity consumption and a drastic reduction
in the state sector’s quota for gasoline or diesel.

Earlier this year, a discussion on the Roundtable TV program confirmed
that interprovincial transportation only meets 70% of demand.

“Why doesn’t ‘Cuba Says’ come here now?” a woman at the Villanueva last
hour station complained Monday afternoon, in an allusion to the official
television program critical of the bureaucracy and laziness. Several
passengers recorded scenes with their mobile phones and from time to
time a shout was heard over the general murmur: “A truck arrived for
Holguín!”

After an announcement like this many throw themselves into the race,
pushing and shoving to the point of small brawls, to board the vehicle.
The police pull some people out of the melee and put them in their
patrol cars. Everyone wants to get out of the hell the Villanueva
station has become.

Source: Bus Terminals Overwhelmed By Hundreds Of Travelers Without
Tickets / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez – Translating Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/bus-terminals-overwhelmed-by-hundreds-of-travelers-without-tickets-14ymedio-marcelo-hernandez/

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