Cuba’s Economic Crisis Leads to Fewer Police Patrols

The tricycle served as a police “patrol car,” with its luminous turret and its white and blue colors.

A Rali brand tricycle slowly makes its way along Infanta Street in Central Havana / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 23 May 2024 — “Just one kick and you can knock them over” observe two handsome young men at a bus stop on Thursday. They are talking about a Rali brand tricycle that is slowly making its way along Infanta Street in Central Havana. What is striking in this case is that the tiny vehicle is operating as a police patrol car, outfitted with the customary blue turret-shaped lights on top.

A woman selling cigars at a nearby covered walkway joins in, joking, “Now even the cop cars can’t get fuel. Next thing you know, they’ll be using chivichanas* to get around.”

“Have you noticed, there’s no gasoline and no electricity for anyone except the police?”

If Cubans thought the previous vehicles looked like aspirin tablets, this new version more closely resembles half a pill, or maybe just a quarter of one. A prescription to treat the growing sense insecurity locals feel on the island’s city streets.

Awhile back, local police officers were issued electric scooters, which they used to patrol the Malecón and nearby streets such as San Lázaro and Carlos III. But no one paid them any notice until these unusual tricycles suddenly appeared.

“Do you realize there’s no gasoline and no electricity for anyone except the police,”observes the same vendor.

*Translator’s note: A chivichana — a kind of skateboard — is a wooden board mounted on four wheels, with an operable front axle, used by children to slide down hilly streets.


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