Transport in Cuba
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The First Tangible Labor Strike

The First Tangible Labor Strike / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, 21 February 2017 — New bureaucratic regulations governing
the routes of shared fixed-route taxis have led to the first tangible
labor strike by drivers. Of course, strikes have gone on for many years
in our country due to the poverty-level wages paid to workers in the
bureaucratic and service sectors. As the old saying goes, “the
government pretends to pay us and we pretend to work.”

The best known example of the current strike involves boteros
(literally “boatmen” — the taxi drivers of cars from the 1940s and
1950s). After bureaucrats set the prices for certain short trips at 5.00
Cuban pesos, the so-called national currency, drivers refused to pick up
short-haul passengers.

After paying a high fee to the government for a license to operate, it
is not profitable for a driver to charge 5.00 Cuban pesos when 0.25 CUC*
(roughly the same in the other currency) does not even cover the high
cost of fuel. Furthermore, anytime a car brakes, there is wear and tear
on the tires and battery. And whenever a car door opens to let a
customer get in or out, more fuel is consumed. Consider that a tire in
this country costs approximately 160.00 CUC, about the same the price as
a battery, not to mention that spark plugs go for almost 3.00 CUC apiece.

Boteros are helping to solve the serious problem of urban transport in
this country. These new regulations have led to an increase in the
number of bus riders, which has in turn led to a deterioration in public
transportation.

Why do these same bureaucrats, who say they have adopted these
regulations to protect the pocketbooks of average citizens, not work to
reduce to extremely high cost of food priced in the national currency
and especially in the convertible currency? Obviously, the state
guarantees them an auto, gasoline and spare parts, so they are not
directly and personally affected by the needs and problems that the
Cuban population faces.

In short, the botero is not forcing you to be his customer. It is the
state which is forcing you by not attending to or solving, after so many
years, the big transportation problems in our country.

Translator’s note: Cuban convertible peso, equivalent to about 6.63
Cuban pesos.

Source: The First Tangible Labor Strike / Rebeca Monzo – Translating
Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/the-first-tangible-labor-strike-rebeca-monzo/

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