Cuba’s Official Hitchhiking

Osmel Almaguer

A Cuban hitchhiking facilitator.

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 6 — Hitching rides in Cuba is regulated by the state. Pick-up points have been established near some bus stops where inspectors (known as azules, or “blues,” which is the color of their uniforms) have been positioned to stop any government-owned car and fill any extra seats with passengers who need a lift.

The aim of this measure is to reduce the negative impact of the transportation shortage. However not everyone is equally willing to comply with this program, even though President Raul Castro himself was the one who announced the resolution.

“There are those people who believe the company car is their personal property,” said one “blue” at the point near my house. “Some do it out of selfishness, laziness or stinginess, while others claim that they’re the ones who have to pay for the car repairs. But the most blatant are military personnel. They think they’re immune to the situation here in the country,” he said.

That was only a short time ago.

So one day when I was waiting at one of the hitchhiking points a state-owned Russian Lada was stopped. Since its driver turned out to heading to the Chivas neighborhood, I said to him, “What luck!” That’s where my school is.” So I got in and we pulled out.

Halfway through the trip, the driver — who from the very beginning had a sour expression — from out of the blue said from to me and to the other person riding in the car that he had to change his plan and so he wasn’t going to Chivas as he had first said.

What a mess! We had to get out and try to get another ride. “What a screwed up attitude this guy has,” I thought.

Look what we have to deal with in terms of misused time and energy, not to mention people’s feelings. The “blue” guy was right. If we citizens are so bad off, it’s partly because we insist on mistreating each other instead of doing the just the opposite.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

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