Cuba Business

Cuban government to allow private taxis in Cuba with free gas

Posted July 09, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Business.


Cuba says it will lift a nine-year ban on new private taxis, approving a dash of private enterprise on the communist-run island and potentially legalizing thousands of unauthorized cabbies who cruise its cities in classic American cars.

The move by new President Raul Castro appears to be a break with the policies of his older brother Fidel, who often made clear his dislike of even the legal private cabs, while accusing illegal drivers of fomenting a black market for stolen gasoline.

State radio reported Tuesday that Transportation Minister Jorge Luis Sierra told a parliamentary commission that officials would soon begin authorizing new private taxis.

Radio Rebelde did not say how many licenses would be issued or when.

Dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe said the initiative is a pragmatic decision, recognizing that illegal taxis outnumber licensed ones in large cities.

“It seems to me like a logical thing, an intelligent thing,” said Espinosa Chepe, who has written essays arguing that unlicensed cabs fill gaps in Cuba’s woeful public transportation system.

Thousands of Cuban car owners risk fines, confiscation of their vehicles and sometimes even arrest by working illegally as taxi drivers, supplementing government taxis and limited private services.

With new car sales tightly controlled, any of the taxis date to before Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, giving rise to the island’s reputation as a moving museum of hulking ‘57 Chevys and 1940 Packards.

Radio Rebelde said taxi drivers in the new category would get a state salary and free gasoline and would be assigned to operate on specific routes with fixed fares.

The news was welcomed by Enemelio Trujillo, an authorized private taxi driver interviewed in front of a powder-blue 1950s Chrysler.

“This way everyone will have the right to work without committing any crime,” Trujillo said.

Member Comments

On July 09, 2008, publisher wrote:

1. “Radio Rebelde did not say how many licenses would be issued or when.”

So, this could all be another non-event. How many and when. These are always the two wild cards in any Cuban government announcement.

How many? Five? Ten? One thousand? Five thousand? Big difference in the story, right?

When? Immediately? Next month? Next year? Big difference.

Yet another typical bullshit, meaningless announcement. Maybe Varsi can explain give us more details.

2. Free gas. Really? The Cuban people already have to steal from the government to survive and now the government is going to give these new entrepreneurs free gas?

Hmmm. I’m guessing these taxis are going to get about one mile per gallon wink

On July 10, 2008, manfredz wrote:

from the description, it sounds more like the “dolmus” in Turkey.  Collective taxis that are really vans that ply a specific route, but go whenever they feel they’ve got enough people.  Cover a specific route, picking up and dropping off anywhere on route and you pay by distance travelled.

On July 10, 2008, arteest wrote:

In Peru as well.

On July 10, 2008, Mako wrote:

This is CAPITALISM ..... OUT OF CONTROL!!!!  grin