Forty-two Dollars for a Two-mile Taxi Ride in Havana

"Lamentablemente tenemos una alta demanda y poca disponibilidad de vehículos por falta de combustible". (EFE)
‘Sadly we have high demand and very little availability of vehicles because of the lack of fuel.” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 17 April 2023 — The fuel crisis in Cuba is far from over and is reflected not only in the empty city streets but also in the unpayable prices of private transport.

“Unfortunately we have a high demand and little availability of vehicles due to lack of fuel,” said a highly respected agency representative in Havana this Sunday, excusing the cost. “We have only been able to locate one driver who can do the service but he charges 1,000 pesos [$42].

Maria, who lives in Nuevo Vedado, had called them. She had just been granted the United States visa for family reunification on behalf of her son and needed a ride early this Monday from her home to the Manuel Fajardo hospital, where she would collect the results of the medical check-up necessary for the consular interview at the embassy. A trip of less than two miles.

“I’ve been using them for months because a friend recommended them to me. They gave her a consular appointment a day after the passage of Hurricane Ian, when the city was full of branches and several blocked streets,” the woman explains to this newspaper to demonstrate the seriousness of the company.

This Sunday morning, she was informed that the service would cost 600 pesos [$25], which she accepted. “But the hours passed and they didn’t send me the make of the car and the name of the driver, as they always do,” María continues, “so I contacted them again in the afternoon.” It was then that they told her that the price would be a thousand pesos. “All that in the same municipality of Plaza de la Revolución; that is, that price for a very short stretch, because the rest of the road was going to be done on foot.” She had to say yes, although the price had almost doubled in a few hours, “because I couldn’t walk with my passport early in the morning given the lack of security.”

Another consequence of the gasoline shortage is being suffered by messaging platforms, such as Mandao. An employee of this company tells 14ymedio that at the moment only those who have a bicycle or an electric motorcycle are working on delivery. The young man, who has a bicycle, explains that his daily services have multiplied: “Before we were the least valued because at the pace of a pedal everything goes a little slower, and many businesses did not want us to take care of their deliveries. But now that there is no gasoline they have realized that our fuel is human, and we don’t have to buy it at gas stations.”

Of course, the law of supply and demand is not forgiving and, thus, the bicitaxis have also raised their costs. “All prices go up,” complained a customer who refused a service on Monday. “In that, the revolution is advancing.”

On Friday, President Miguel Díaz-Canel tried to offer explanations for the lack of fuel but, as on other occasions, he only pointed to scapegoats. “The countries that have certain commitments with us to supply us with gasoline from the agreements we have are also experiencing a complex energy situation,” he said in a meeting in Santa Clara with provincial leaders of the Party.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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