14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 5 January 2014 – With the authorization of mobile vendors, among the new forms of self-employment, an unexpected problem has arisen: the wheels. I’m not going to wear myself out here talking about the intimate relationship that exists between translational movement and this circular mechanical piece that rotates around an axis. The lack of foresight is as obvious as it is surprising, on the part of the bureaucrats who did not take into account something so elemental. If there isn’t a good supply of wheels suitable to move certain volumes of merchandise, those who use a cart, a scooter, or a wheelbarrow will take them where they find them.
Dumpsters are the most frequent victims of this depredation. The extraction is not always done in a friendly way, that is undoing the screws that connect the rolling mechanism to the base of the trash container, because on many occasions it is more practical to rip them out by force or to take the whole container and sell the rest of the structure as raw material for the manufacture of clothespins.
A few yards from Prado and Neptuno, the mythical corner of the song, “La Engañadora,” [The Deceiver] the police have detained Armandito, a vegetable seller. Pushing his cabbages, tomatoes and onions, piled on a metallic structure that surely also qualifies as of doubtful origin. The law enforcement agents have examined the wheels and have determined they are illegal. Around the scene several bystanders intercede, asking for clemency. “This boy is working… Why can’t you leave him in peace,” a gray-haired man tells the officer.
“They’re ruining the dumpsters,” the cop replies, and the mobile vendor has no option but to let himself be taken to some police station to make a statement, where he might end up in a cell for hours or days. In the interrogation they will want to know how he acquired the wheels for his transport, who supplied them to him and at what price. A fine, a forfeiture, and if he’s a repeat offender it won’t end there.
Not far from where they caught the vendor, someone has installed the mutilated corner of a garbage container over a doorjamb. Still, full of holes and broken it will continue providing service to unsuspected limits and could be a victim of other thieves, who might rip off the remaining wheels. Will Armandito confess where he got his?