Requiem for Transport

Gladys Carbonell’s grandson and great-granddaughter spent 24 hours on a Via Azul bus to Santiago de Cuba (FLICKR)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Gladys Carbonell, Havana, 4 September 2018 — In addition to the terrible catastrophe of the plane crash in Havana, there have been many road transport accidents in Cuba lately, in which, unfortunately, people of all ages have died, including children which is the worst and most heartbreaking. There have also been many other accidents in different provinces of the country.

I would like to relate what happened to my grandson a few days ago on his trip to Santiago de Cuba, when he was taking his 7-year-old daughter home from her vacation in Havana to the place where she lives. My grandson lives in Havana and makes these trips often to fulfill the sacred duty of taking care of his daughter on vacation and spending time with her as he wants to do after his divorce. As a grandmother, and because I can take on the expense of these trips, I help him to fulfill his function as father and give the child a chance to enjoy being with him, for which I pay the Government the approximate sum of the almost 300 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) that these trips entail.

There are no planes and there is no chance of getting a space on bus if you are paying in Cuban pesos (CUP). The only alternative if you need to move between the two most important cities in the country are the Vía Azul and Transtur companies, initially created to transport tourists or residents who are living abroad.

It took my grandson and his daughter 24 hours to arrive via Vía Azul in Santiago de Cuba. A trip that should last about 15 hours lasted 24, because they left the terminal on August 28 at 6 in the morning and arrived in Santiago de Cuba on the 29th past 6 in the morning. It was an endless journey and full of many needs, something normal when you take a child.

The reason for the delay was that the rubber on the left front tire of the bus peeled away in Ciego de Ávila, which could have caused the bus to overturn which probably would have caused the death of several people. Who knows if it would have fallen to me to mourn the death of my grandson and my great-granddaughter.

As always happens, the company did not have the spare part. They sent it to look for it and, finally, the person who was supposed to bring this part to the place where the bus was parked, forgot where it was.

A month or so ago, the same thing happened when a son of mine returned from Santiago de Cuba to Havana. The bus that left at 10:30 on the night of July 26 broke down as it arrived in Palma Soriano, shortly after leaving Santiago, and they had to go back and to get on another bus to get to the capital. How is it possible that it broke down so soon after starting out? Is it possible that these vehicles are not checked at the maintenance base before leaving? Don’t they care that people could lose their lives?

How many CUC does the Government collect for that simple trip by bus on Vía Azul, which is sure to be full and where there are children? Which of those revolutionary leaders that supposedly must watch over the well-being of their people travel or live an experience like that? Which one pays for terrible service, the price of which is almost six times the monthly retirement income of any Cuban professional? Please, do not blame the ’blockade’ for this. Any other argument, even if it seems like a lie, I could believe it.

Translated by Jim


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.