At a Gas Station in Havana, Esther’s Fans Support Her in Her Criticism of the New Fuel Regulations

At dawn, Los Paraguas received a tanker with 6,500 liters of regular gasoline and when the morning shift started, only 2,000 liters remained. / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, February 27, 2024 — Esther Pérez Trujillo, who is entrusted by the government of Guanabacoa with the organization of the lines at the gas stations of that Havana municipality, does not like the new rules for the distribution of fuel. And she doesn’t hide it. This Tuesday, in one of the Telegram groups that she administers, she called for the “opinion of the people” in order to send it to the Municipal Board of Directors.

In a message sent early in the morning, Esther explained why she did not summon the buyers on her list  to the Cupet Los Paraguas gas station. According to her, the service center received 1,717 gallons of regular gasoline at 2:41 in the morning, and at the beginning of the morning shift, there were only 528 gallons left. There was also an “unconvened” line.

Accompanying the text with emoticons of disgust, she added: “That is, between the time of rest and the change of shift, 1,189 gallons were sold,” and “the next call will be when another fuel truck arrives.”

“Public opinions. Group open,” the text ended, inviting a conversation. The comments did not take long to arrive, almost all in favor of the work of Esther and her subordinates. “It shouldn’t happen with the good work that you and your team are doing. It’s true that they shouldn’t save the fuel, but at that time of day people don’t deserve it,” said Roiber Danger Salazar.

“This is the most organized system and you have done a good job”

According to Mijail Fernández, “I am of the opinion that your system should be extended to all gas stations, and they should not be sending fuel to Cupet at such early hours of the morning.”

“This is the most organized system and you have done a good job, but if it is not widespread it will fail, because sometimes disorganization suits some,” said José Luis Castillo, as did Izzet: “I don’t understand why, if you and your team do such good work to avoid coleros [people others pay to ‘stand in line’ for them] and the resellers from hoarding fuel, they do that. It’s true that the gas stations can’t refuse to sell, but what they did showed a lack of respect toward you, who have worked so hard, and the people who wait their turn in a disciplined manner.”

The same user asks them to “take measures,” and as an example mentions the Cupet El Tángana, in El Vedado, where “they do not retain fuel but there is a schedule so that someone who can’t come at the time of his turn can go later.” And he ends by encouraging Esther: “We continue to ride, with you as the leader of the troop.”

“Congratulations, don’t give up, let the dogs bark, I support you”

Many of the comments allude to the danger of having to refuel late at night. “For those of us who have motorcycles, early morning shifts have become somewhat dangerous,” explained Alberto Borrego. More clearly, Abdel Pérez, also a motorcyclist, said that “early morning calls are VERY DANGEROUS, as we know there is crime and violence on the street.”

For her part, Zayda Suárez questioned that given the time at which the fuel arrived, “they should have waited for dawn and called those of us who are on the list. The fuel doesn’t usually arrive that early, and the administration of the service center should respect the established order.”

Until a little less than a month ago, the gas stations organized by Esther seemed to have the privilege of receiving more fuel than others in the capital. Esther and her two subordinates managed “the lists” of customers through Telegram with an iron hand. However, last week the boss of Guanabacoa informed her followers that the rules of the game had changed. By orders “from above,” gasoline would not be saved for those who did not come when it was their turn, and, if someone who was not registered on the list arrived at the service center, they would have the possibility of refueling.

During these days, Esther has continued with discipline, coordinating users via Telegram without any protest.The arrival of the fuel in the early hours of the morning, out of turn, with the consequent disappointment of the buyers, seems to have tried her patience.

Of course, it is clear that the customers are with her: “Congratulations, don’t give up, let the dogs bark,* I support you.”

*Translator’s note: A quotation from the novel Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. 

Translated by Regina Anavy


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