Luis Miguel de la Bahia
HAVANA TIMES — Landing at Havana’s Jose Marti Airport after a 10 hour flight, we found ourselves in a situation that would be unthinkable in any other airport I’ve visited: There were hardly any luggage carts.
A line immediately formed to collect the few they did provide, making people wait 10 to 15 minutes for each newly freed one.
We complained to every official possible, but the responses were all the same: “Sorry, I don’t have anything to do with that.” When we finally did find the person in charge, he said that he couldn’t do anything about it either.
No one conceived of an airport that didn’t address such problems and where the staff couldn’t have cared less.
One of them explained that the number of arriving flights was unusual, and that this explained the congestion.
My next question was: With the money they make from charges for luggage weight and taxes, wasn’t that enough to buy the essentials to make things operate correctly?
Unlike Cubans 10 years ago, no one was afraid to openly express their displeasure concerning this issue of the carts, charges for excess weight or even unjust immigration policy.
But viewed from another angle, what were the customs people, who have to deal with the public, going to do. The staff was simply doing their work in accordance with the rules of the airport.
So who do we hold responsible? The airport officials who aren’t doing their jobs? The deranged customs regulations? The National Assembly? The people for not demanding that their leaders make things work?
In the immediacy of the situation, we were all looking to pin the blame on the official closest to us, but the truth was — thinking rationally — I didn’t know whose fault this was.
The plane touched down at 4.45 pm and three hours later, finally, I managed to walk passed the customs barrier. Behind me was almost the entire flight, and there — outside — empty carts were everywhere.
When I stepped outside the building, I looked up at a huge sign welcoming me to Cuba.