14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 10 June 2023 — Under the dilapidated balconies of Reina Street in Havana, dozens of travelers try to negotiate with the taxi drivers. Since the entry into effect, this Friday, of the new prices for private transport, a discreet protest has begun: at a standstill in the taxi rank, before the nervous eyes of the inspectors, the vehicles refuse to leave.
Until now, it cost 150 pesos to go from Fraternity Park to Guanabacoa, about 11 miles. However, the General Directorate of Provincial Transport imposed a reduction in tariffs that, in the midst of a panorama of shortages and inflation, the self-employed took as an affront.
“They don’t want to leave,” one of the passengers who returns to the taxi rank says, frustrated. “Until now, it cost 150 pesos to go from here to La Cuevita, but that’s relative: sometimes you had to spend 200 pesos if you wanted to move,” claims another of the travelers.
Dressed in warm blue uniforms, the inspectors attend the scene. There is very little they can do. The new prices were stipulated “from above” and they – while receiving the angry looks of those who wait – have neither the authority nor the means to negotiate a viable way out of the conflict.
Among the drivers there is one who knows one of the inspectors and has been beckoning to him with his hands for a few minutes. “Get out of the car, please,” the official replies, who does not want to be seen conversing with the discreet rebels. They exchange a couple of sentences, but the tension is such that the driver invites his acquaintance to “drink something,” to get out of the visual field of the others.
“Look,” the inspector refuses, “better another day. See you.” And he vanishes into the group of uniformed men.
As noon approaches and the line does not move, the atmosphere begins to warm up. Most are calculating whether the number of miles to go is proportional to the meager breakfast they had – if there was any. The solution: start walking.
Rapidly, some young people on skateboards cross through the tumult and disappear down the street. Between despair and heat, someone jokes: “At least they’re not controlled by Transport.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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