The Buses Don’t Stop

Osmel Almaguer

Havana Articulated Bus

When I’m at the bus stop, I almost always see a number of buses fly by that don’t pick anyone up.  These aren’t the vehicles that make up the public transit system, but ones that belong to certain State-run rental agencies.

You can watch them drive by empty —lots of them— two or three times the number of public buses.  I figure that they have to waste great amounts of fuel, which the country is not in a position to afford.

The country recently launched its “Energy Revolution,” focused on conserving electricity. It goes so far as taking measures that frequently leave whole neighborhoods in the dark; or thousands of companies closed or with computers shut down and without air conditioning, just at the hottest hours of the day.

Notwithstanding, it seems this campaign around the critical issue of resource conservation doesn’t include public transportation.

What we save on one hand, and what costs the sweat and sacrifice of millions of Cubans, is used up inattentively.

Yet rental buses don’t always just sail on by.  Occasionally they stop at bus stops and pick up large numbers of passengers, but they charge a full peso (two and a half times the fare for public transportation).

What’s worse is that the drivers pocket most of the money (I’m sure of this because I used to work at a bus depot).

The daily report would show about 200 pesos collected, but they would pocket between 500 and 1,000 pesos – more than what most Cuban workers earn in a month.

Between the wasted fuel, the poor transportation service (exacerbated by that fact), and the theft of fares – what’s the total loss?

When we consider this involves millions of pesos, I believe this would be enough to make substantial improvements to our transportation system.  As for the robbery of fares, very little has been done to prevent this, and those measures taken fail to completely address the situation.

Just as everything is neither rose colored nor totally bleak, the institute where I work has a bus that ensures us transportation to and from the job.  This keeps us from having to endure the daily odyssey of traveling on foot or the dangers of the many pickpockets and perverts who prowl on public buses.  This averts us from having to get into arguments or fight with someone more stressed out than we are – situations that I’ve seen when the bus from work doesn’t come by and I have to take public transit.


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.

3 thoughts on “The Buses Don’t Stop

  • Alsdally, how right you are! You may not know it, but you have many co-thinkers. It’s time to scuttle full state ownership.

    If Cuba would follow your wisdom in this matter, her productivity would soon stun the world. Not only would this solve all the problems of the bureaucratic mess in Cuba, but it would soon revolutionize the world.

    If the socialist Cuban state should go to partial, non-controlling ownership of worker-owned coops, its revenues would mushroom.

    In truth, the masses of the capitalist world are yearning for an alternative to monopoly capitalism. All that is needed is a concrete example of workable socialism, and the socialist movement around the world would be revitalized.

    Can’t anyone bend Fidel’s ear on these cooperative ideas for the next PCC congress?

    I’m in the US, Osmel, and we have the same programmatic needs as you in Cuba. We could have a socialist republic here in just a few years, if only Cuba would give us a workable model.

  • Complete state ownership of all the means of production clearly does not work, has not worked and will not work. What is the difference between a large private corporation controlling people’s labour inputs and a large public corporation doing the same? Cuba needs to allow a combination of individual sole proprietorships, whereby goods and services are provided in the most efficient way by people controlling their own means of production, along with larger cooperative enterprises, whereby the workers are united to provide goods and services also in the most efficient way all working together for a common goal and also controlling their own means of production. The state is left to provide the services that the state is best able to provide; health care, education, infrastructure, and other important public goods that any private enterprise would be unable to effectively provide in the public good. This I believe to be the future of a workable socialism.

  • Osmel, what you are seeing regarding these buses is the result of the core ideas of Marxist economics: 1) abolition of private property; and 2) concentration of all the means of production in the hands of the state.

    Both come from the second chapter of the Communist Manifesto of 1848.

    What is important now is for socialists to advance a new core idea for the future of Cuban socialism: 1) establishment of private property rights; and 2) divestment of “all” the means of production from out of the hands of the state.

    “Full” state ownership of the means of production doesn’t work. It doesn’t build socialism, and it doesn’t build the new individual.

    The new core idea should be: respect for private property rights, and their adroit use for socialist construction.

    This means, Osmel, a strategic alliance of the small business sectors and the large cooperative corporation worker/owners. The state should only co-own large, non-voting shares of large enterprise.

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