Miguel Arias Sanchez
HAVANA TIMES – Cuba’s transport crisis today isn’t news. We’ve been dealing with this evil for years, and there are generations of Cubans that don’t know any better. In the past, it’s been a shortage of buses, spare parts, not enough drivers, etc.
This crisis has got a lot worse with fuel shortages, which is the case today, as the siege on the country with the US blockade has tightened its grip and tanker ships carrying Venezuelan oil (Venezuela being our greatest black gold supplier right now) are being fined.
In the meantime, it’s clear that we weren’t getting ready for such a situation, a country doesn’t end up without its reserves overnight. This has all led to a series of consequences that are seriously affecting the transport of Cubans in their everyday activities: to workplaces, hospitals, schools… in a nutshell, everything a Cuban does in a day.
You just have to go out and take a look at bus stops, especially at rush hour, when people should be going (or returning) from work, when they flood the streets hoping that something comes along to take them.
The government has tried to keep the situation under control. It has made a call for solidarity, for energy-saving measures, it has placed police officers at more complicated stops to try and prevent chaos breaking out.
Many state-employed drivers are cooperating, others aren’t. They see people on the street and aren’t willing to stop and pick them up, others do stop and say they are going close by, thereby preventing a stampede of passengers. People get hot and bothered, they protest and there are lots of unpleasant situations that only go to reflect the population’s mood, tired of having to struggle.
The government says that this is a “temporary” crisis, but crises bring out the best and the worst in people. Suddenly, many private collective taxi drivers (boteros) began to charge more than the normal fare, for no apparent reason. Fuel is short, really short, but the price hasn’t gone up so ordinary citizens shouldn’t have to be paying more for their transport.
The reality is that people hope that this situation is truly temporary and that things go back to normal soon, because the precarity of the post-Soviet “Special Period” crisis of the 1990s is the first thing that comes to mind when there are shortages, and this is a memory that every Cuban wants to wipe from their brain.