Revolutionary ‘Justice’ / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

Two women board a shared taxi (almendrón) in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 28 February 2018 — The distance between the Havana Capitol and the Ciudad Deportiva (Sport City) remains the same and yet it seems to have changed. With the capped prices imposed by local government on the private taxi routes, this journey has become immense and difficult to complete. Where before a person needed to wait between 5 and 15 minutes, now they have to wait up to an hour to climb into an almendrón*.

At this point, those who were rubbing their hands at the reduced prices for private transport, must have realized that the hand of the state has broken a fragile network ruled by supply and demand. The taxi drivers cut their trips in a sign of protest, and many are staying home weighing whether it is worth spending so many hours behind the steering wheel for ever smaller profits.

The victims of these reductions are all of us. One of the new rich who manages a restaurant, the doctor who needs to get to the hospital, the old man who has a medical appointment, or the student who is counting his centavos to make it to the end of the month. It has not been a blow to the social class that can pay between 10 and 20 Cuban pesos for a trip, but a blow to all those who on some occasion, even if only sporadically, use this type of transportation.

Official propaganda is now unleashed against the workers of the private sector, but it is silent before the exploitive state that pays for such misery

Like many restrictive measures of this “Revolutionary” process, it has also surrounded itself with a whiff of false justice, with an aura of supposed egalitarianism. Official propaganda is now unleashed against private sector workers who charge half a day’s wages for a trip, but it is silent before the exploitive state that pays for such misery.

The television reports approach the passengers to capture the moment when they say, “that was an abuse that could not continue,” or, “now prices are more in line with our pockets.” But they are silent about those shelves in the state stores where a liter of oil cost two days’ pay and two pounds of chicken can mean a week’s hard work.

Will prices also rise in those markets? Will the Havana Administrative Council unleash itself against the retail network where a father has to pay two week’s wages for a pair of shoes for his son? The Revolutionary “justice” is one-eyed in these cases, only looking in the direction that suits it.

*Translator’s note: “Almendrón” means “almond” and refers to the shape of the classic American cars often used in shared, fixed-route taxi service.