The Ferry At Last! / Rebeca Monzo

For many years, a ferry in our country served as a practical and economic means of communication between Havana and Key West (Cayo Hueso).  It was heavily utilized by those people who travel with their automobiles, to facilitate movement to other places after arrival at the destination. This was only up to the year 1959, when everything changed dramatically.

Again, after 56 years, the exchange of travel by ferry with the United States of America has been reestablished, this time with certain limitations: people cannot come to our city accompanied by their cars and at the moment only certain people can utilize this means of transportation: Cuban citizens resident in the US and those on the island, and those Americans that qualify for cultural, sports, scientific, academic and other types of exchange.

Upon learning the news, the Cuban population has proved to be somewhat disconcerted with these limitations, because they haven’t been given any explanations in this regard. I supposed that this is due, fundamentally, to the lack of infrastructure in our ports to receive these vessels transporting automobiles, the necessary legalization of the use of American and Cuban license plates and driver’s licenses and the deficiency of supplies to deal with the rapid increase in visitors.

As a friend who works in tourism told me, recently a large cruise ship arrived and the travelers descended to visit the historic center of Old Havana and, in a flash, the supplies of bottled water and beer were exhausted.  What does the administration think about confronting this problem, an administration that right now is mired in severe shortages in the shops, markets and businesses of our capital?

As always, the opening measures seem to surprise the Government that says it is working on it “without haste but without pausing*.”  I imagine that, with the prices and salaries of our country, in spite of the ferry, many more  flimsy and clandestine boats will continue leaving, loaded with Cubans “without a visa but in a hurry.”

*Translator’s note: A phrase from a speech by Raul Castro (“sin prisas pero sin pausas”) describing the regime’s approach to “updating” the economy.

 Translated by: BW