Scooter Owners in Santiago de Cuba Want Licenses for ‘Carrying Passengers’

“What is within my reach as a means of income is my electric motorcycle,” says this Santiago resident who left state employment decades ago.  (L. Ribot)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Alberto Hernandez, Santiago de Cuba, 24 June 2021 — At 65 years of age, Alberto is far from being able to enjoy retirement.  His greatest aspiration at this time is for authorities to legalize private transportation for all kinds of motorcycles.  “What is within my reach as a means of income is my electric motorcycle,” say this Santiago resident who left state employment decades ago and who each day encounters more difficulties in sustaining himself economically.

“I am an engineer, and I stopped working for the State in 1993, during the Special Period.  Then I was only earning 280 pesos [a month], which equaled 2.33 dollars.  For that reason I dedicated myself to looking for my daily bread illegally in the streets, in different types of businesses,” he explains.  “Today, after almost three decades and with the monetary reorganization, I find myself in a complex situation economically, having no legal income or retirement.”

The third stage of registration of mopeds and electric motorcycles began on the Island on June 7 and will run until December 31, 2022.  Owners of scooters [called ‘motorinas‘ in Cuba] did not have to register but now they do, and they must get the driver’s license and license plate.

Alberto already went through the process, the same one that is required of those who get about with gasoline engines, and he has everything ready.  But the permission to operate as a private carrier with these vehicles does not exist.

“Incorporating scooters into passenger transportation would be a good way out of my financial situation and an economical alternative for those without a job, like me,” he argues.  “Including electric transport, it would be a great help at those times in Santiago de Cuba when gas is scarce, something that has been happening often.”

The only electric transportation authorized for cargo and passengers is tricycles, which can carry out this activity since April 1 of this year, according to a rule by the Ministry of Transportation.

“I wish they would give me a transportation license to carry passengers on my wife’s scooter in my free time, since I work as a custodian one day and rest two,” says Oscarito, who works in a state parking lot and also needs extra pay at a time in which the crisis has become even worse, and the work regulation has increased the cost of living in Cuba.

“I urgently need another source of income, because since prices increased, I feel suffocated, and the salary barely counts.  In my job they keep an electric tricycle, and this equipment they do allow to operate as private transportation,” he emphasizes and asks why the same treatment is not given to scooters.

Miguel Angel, owner and driver of an electric motorcycle, laments that his machine, having the same appearance as a gas-powered motorcycle, is excluded from this type of license only because it runs on electricity.  “My scooter is a Puma of the same model as the gasoline Puma, and even so they have not authorized me to carry passengers,” he protests.

In an absence of regulation, there are those who risk taking action without having any license.  “I bought an electric Puma with the idea of doing business with it.  I use it for carrying passengers and I always have to look out for the police, but so far I have been lucky,” says Rodolfo, a 52-year-old driver who refuses to wait for a legal change.

“I wish they would authorize private transportation for those of us who have scooters, to be able to work legitimately, but I can’t take it anymore with the slowness of those who make the laws in this country.”

Translated by Mary Lou Keel


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