14ymedio, Havana, 23 February 2016 — Preferred by customers for short distance travel and demonized by motorists who consider them a danger to traffic, pedicabs are part of the urban landscape of Havana and many provincial cities. With their three wheels and their many decorative variations, these vehicles use the “human fuel” of a driver who pedals you to your destination. That makes them the most precarious link in passenger transport in Cuba.
Those who work the pedals are harassed by the police and exploited by the owners of the pedicabs. Many, the poorest, come from the east of the country and are considered “illegal” in the so-called “capital of all Cubans,” because they lack the resident permits required to live in the city. The days they manage to make more than five convertible pesos (CUC) they feel happy, although there are some who brag about giving tours for tourists for no less than “20 CUC per hour.”
The “bite” taken out by the police must also be factored into the prices. Among those in uniform extortionists abound and avoiding a fine or a confiscation can only be achieved with gifts or hard cash. In the network of corruption suffered by self-employed workers, the pedicabs drivers are on the lowest rung of the ladder. They must pay if they want to continue to pedal through the city.