Repression Instead of Solutions / Fernando Dámaso

Old American cars of the kind generally used as shared fixed-route taxis in Havana.

Fernando Damaso, 19 July 2016 — The topic of discussion among Havanans today is not only the intense heat and “the evil of it,” but also the beginning of the persecution and repression against self-employed taxi drivers who have raised their prices.

Given the lack of public transport, which has been going on for a long time, the so-called “boatmen” — as the private drivers are called — have been a boon to citizen transport, helping to alleviate the problem. Taking into account the cost of their vehicles, from the high prices of fuel, the nonexistent parts for repairs, and the increased taxes they have to pay, they have raised their prices.

The response from the Council of Public Administration of the city’s People Power, a regressive and inefficient replacement for the former Mayor, has responded with controls, sanctions and withdrawal of licenses from those who violate the previous prices, all of this being applied as of this last Monday.

Cuban leaders should explain to the citizens why they destroyed the systems of public transportation that functioned efficiently at low prices prior to January 1959, and in 58 years have not been capable of creating one that works.

Repressing those who help transport citizens, in the face of the state’s inability to do so, is not a good decision, and if they don’t stop doing it the situation will become chaotic and could even become violent. The need to move from one place to another has existed since the dawn of mankind, and is not resolved with decrees or impositions, but with efficient and sufficient public transport.