School Break Week Stresses Transit System in Camaguey

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ricardo Fernández, Camagüey, 20 April 2019 — Camagüeyanos have struggled this week to get around, due to the high demands on public transit as a result of school breaks at every level of education. Families turn to private carriers, which raise prices for the occasion, given the limited availability of state buses.

According to official figures, more than 1.7 million students travel around the country during this holiday period. The inefficiency of the state transport monopoly and the scarce fleet of private vehicles, this year, like every year, overwhelms the transit system resulting in  frequent long and exhausting lines.

The network of commerce and places for leisure and recreation, also in the hands of the State for the most part, collapse under the sudden increase in customers. Trips to the coast of Camagüey are frequent at this time when people travel from the provincial capital to the coast in increasing numbers.

The long lines to buy a ticket at the State-run Astro bus company and waiting lists several days long, cause many travelers to give up on using the state transport network. Individuals, on the other hand, offer trips in trucks rebuilt to serve as buses, but the fares are close to 10 CUC per person for the Camaguey-Havana route, half of a monthly salary.

The capital is a frequent destination for families seeking a wider range of recreational options. In Havana, the attractions include two zoos, the historic center, the National Aquarium and the Eastern Beaches, among other places to enjoy in the summer.

The week of school recess in April has been maintained for several decades and was ratified by Resolution 36 of 2017, based on an agreement of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers. This month’s break is established for both educators and students, the first one after the New Year’s break in a school year with a total of 46 weeks of study.

At the beginning, it was officially called “Girón week” because it coincided with the events of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, but over time many called it Holy Week because it coincides with the festivities and celebrations of Lent. Only since the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the island, in 2012, has Good Friday been established as a holiday.

Until the 1990s, schools continued to be open with recreation activities for students whose parents did not have work holidays during those days or who did not have the ability to organize field trips. However, with the coming of the economic crisis known as the Special Period, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this service has waned and in some places disappeared completely, so now families must take care of their children during the school break week.

These days the option of watching state television shows dedicated to children and teens is on the wane, replaced in many homes by watching programming available through the ’Weekly Packet’.


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