Marks and Spencer accused of ‘direct discrimination’ after Cuban native refused currency exchange

By Craig Williams from Glasgow Live

A refusal to exchange money into another currency for a Cuban visitor to Glasgow by a high-street chain has sparked protest among members of the public.

The incident took place on Sunday in Mark and Spencer’s Argyle Street store, when the visitor, a high profile Cuban actor visiting the city to attend a film festival, was refused the transaction on presenting their passport.

Film festival staff and members of the Latin American community in the city have called for a boycott of the chain after the actor was subjected to what they call “direct discrimination” as a result of their national origin.

Frances McKay, who works with the Havana Glasgow Film Festival, was present when the incident occurred.

She told Glasgow Live : “I am horrified at Marks and Spencer for what happened when I took my Cuban friend to change some Pounds Sterling into US dollars. When they produced their Cuban passport they received a point-blank refusal to complete the transaction because of where they were from.

“I offered my passport to do the transaction myself and this was declined too. A manager then advised me that it was declined because of the law regarding trade in Cuba. I was nearly in tears at the treatment we received.”

The visitor, who wishes not to disclose their identity, was part of a delegation of directors, actors and scriptwriters from Cuba to attend the third edition of the film festival – one which celebrates Havana and Glasgow being twin cities.

Frances has written to her local MP to ask for an explanation into the incident.

A spokesperson said: “In light of the US sanctions on Cuba, many UK travel money providers do not supply US dollars to customers planning to travel to Cuba.

“However, on this occasion we incorrectly declined to supply US dollars to a customer travelling to the US, rather than to Cuba. We would like to offer our apologies to the customer and are now reviewing our approach to ensure that it is clear going forward.”

 

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