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    Do we Cubans still need permission to enter state establishments?

    Do we Cubans still need permission to enter state establishments?
    JORGE ENRIQUE RODRÍGUEZ | La Habana | 31 de Mayo de 2017 – 07:34 CEST.

    I recently went to buy cigarrettes at the Ruinas del Parque
    bar-restaurant, located on the corner of Obispo and Aguacate, in Old
    Havana. I said “good afternoon” to the doorman, and headed towards the
    bar, but I was intercepted. Without the least demonstration of courtesy,
    the doorman asked me where I was going.

    Flustered by both his question and rude tone, I asked him whether I
    needed permission to frequent an establishment open to all.

    “The Cubans grew ignorant, and now they want to trample everything,” was
    his reply. Sporting a guayabera and with a martial bearing, he failed to
    explain what my ignorance consisted of, or what exactly I was trampling.

    Ruinas del Parque, a bar-restaurant with open-air tables, is part of a
    whole series of state-owned businesses located within Havana’s historic
    center. Decades back they served foreign tourists almost exclusively,
    the high prices of their products and services making them inaccessible
    to everyone else.

    As I shared my anecdote with workers at several private bars and
    restaurants, also located within the historic quarter, I recalled an
    often-overlooked reflection: the rise of Socialist Cuba entailed a
    tradition of vague and ambiguous laws and regulations.

    When they are not applied due to ineffectiveness or political
    disagreement – in the best cases – they are subject to individual
    interpretation, and serve the interests of the higher-ups of the
    Communist Party (PCC), who run corporations and ministries as if they
    were principalities.

    “Let’s not forget that, even though the ban restricting access to hotels
    and tourist services was repealed years ago, we are still not seen in
    these places as customers, but rather as a nuisance, or as potential
    hustlers,” said chef Rogelito Linares.

    According to Dalia Ferrer, an expert soda maker, the reasons for the
    doorman’s attitude range from incompetence to prejudice and racism.

    “In any case, the question was offensive, as well as counterproductive
    in this type of profession. The elegant way is simple: establish a
    cordial dialogue by returning the greeting, and informing the potential
    customer about the products that can be enjoyed at the business,” she said.

    Gauging how deeply our social fabric has been damaged by the wedge
    driven by the Government between Cubans and foreigners (even going so
    far as to incarcerate Cubans who tried to breach it) is no simple
    exercise. The doorman’s question and tone serve as a reminder: the
    abolition of a law that discriminated against us is all for naught if we
    do not stand up for ourselves and speak out.

    “What is sad is that we have become accustomed to this relationship as
    if it were something natural, an idiosyncrasy of ours,” explained
    bartender Abelito Santana as he prepares a sangría for two Cuban customers.

    “We know in advance that in certain places we are going to be
    mistreated, or discriminated against, and we somehow participate in this
    vicious circle, like docile children of abuse…that doorman is also a
    victim.”

    Government perceptions of tourism, which can be found at the
    pro-Government site Ecured, evidence this obfuscation by restricting and
    manipulating the population’s destinations: “Occasionally it has been
    pointed out that tourism could have positive benefits by allowing
    different cultures to interrelate. However, the socio-cultural impacts
    detected tend to be negative for the host society, which is why Cuba
    pays special attention to the development of this sector and its
    influence in Cuban society.”

    Along with the rise of tourism as a leading source of foreign currency
    in the country, it was also destined to consolidate (as many Cuban
    sociologists and essayists indicated) class discrimination, exacerbated
    by the emergence of a private sector in which the military and oligarchy
    owns or controls the most prosperous and lucrative businesses.

    Trying to restrict my access to Ruinas del Parque was, perhaps, a
    personal (though not isolated) decision by the doorman. But, without any
    doubt, it reflects, along with racism, a set of attitudes, prohibited by
    the Constitution, whose existence and profusion are still denied by the
    Government.

    Source: Do we Cubans still need permission to enter state
    establishments? | Diario de Cuba –
    www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1496208847_31528.html

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