Written by Audrie Zettick on January 13, 2009
Fidel Castro has criticized legal and illegal taxis in Cuba for their “juicy profits.” He was also once quoted as saying:
I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating… because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition.
Some filthy juicy profits may be coming to the rescue of Cuba’s ailing transportation system, as Raul Castro is allowing new taxi licenses to be issued and some taxi drivers to set their own rates. One mother of a state engineer is quoted as wanting her son to consider giving up his day job to use their car as a taxi.
Of course, their car is a 1950s Chevy. (I wonder what all these Cubans would think of the Hershey Car Show each fall, with all those “vintage” cars spiffed up and for sale).
Yes, capitalism at work. Of course, it’s far from ideal. Cabs in more populated areas will be more highly regulated and price controlled.
Even though it’s been ten years since the Cuban government approved new taxi licenses, it hasn’t stopped drivers from offering the service. So with some of the government brakes off, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
When my hubby and I were in Ukraine (for an adoption trip) we primarily traveled by taxi. Each morning we’d guess at what kind of vehicle would show up at the apartment. Dented? All windows working? Any seat belts? Do we have duct tape and pantyhose in case we need to help with on-the-road repairs? (click here for photos on various auto duct tape repairs and here for a video on replacing your fan belt with hose).
We were taking our lives in our hands–cars in less-than-ideal condition plus bad roads is not a good combo. One member of our independent adoption group was killed in a head-on collision during an evening drive the previous winter because her driver had no headlights.
Strangely, along with my fear of riding in a cab was delight that these folks were making an independent living.
President-elect Obama has suggested changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba. I propose sending duct tape and pantyhose to Cuba to support these budding entrepreneurs.
Capitalism built on duct tape. Not a bad idea. It can be as difficult to remove as an incumbent Congressman.