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Posted May 04, 2004 by publisher in Business In Cuba

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Dorka Cespedes | Lux Info Press | [url=http://www.cubanet.org]http://www.cubanet.org[/url]

The taxi stand in front of the Capitol in Havana has been eliminated and
the drivers told to relocate to the railroad station several blocks away
under the pretext that they obstruct tourists who want to photograph
the building.

The orders came from the office of the Historian of the City of Havana,
Eusebio Leal. In spite of his title, perhaps suggesting quaint stories
and dusty archives, Mr. Leal has in recent years become quite a
powerful man, especially around the old city. His brief extends to urban
renewal, preservation and beautification of buildings and public areas of
Old Havana, and the promotion of tourism, one of the primary sources of
hard currency for the government. As a result of his office’s
involvement in tourism, Mr. Leal controls a sizable budget in hard currency,
deriving income from some government-operated tourist enterprises and
employing the moneys in urban renewal.

Although Mr. Leal’s office gets high marks for some of its preservation
work, ordinary citizens resent being displaced from their homes, or as
in this case, their place of business.

One of the displaced taxi owners, Florentino Cespedes, 61, who drives a
1954 Chevrolet, said: “They treat us as dogs, they levy exorbitant
fines and taxes, and now they kick us out of where we’ve always been.”

Cespedes pointed out that the Capitol is usually surrounded by tourist
buses, taxis, and horse-drawn carriages, all operated by government
enterprises, but that private drivers are not allowed near the building.

Finally, Cespedes complained, all these measures do not prevent
beggars, mostly old people and children but sometimes young mothers with babies, from swarming around the tourists.

Now, according to the orders from the City Historian’s office, private
taxis going to Playa, Plaza, La Lisa, Marianao, and east Havana, park
at the railroad terminal. Those going to destinations farther out, such
as Gines, Madruga, San Jose and Jaruco, have been assigned to the La
Coubre terminal.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on October 21, 2004 by Heidi

    Seeking any thoughts or info regarding Lisa Howard.  Please write to me.  Thank you so much…

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