Cuba: Doubled Private Transportation Permits So Far in 2009

Herald Tribune: Last December, the government unfroze the granting of permits for the activity after a nine-year hiatus.

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The number of private individuals who legally transport passengers in Cuba almost doubled in the first half of 2009, after the government last December unfroze the granting of permits for the activity after a nine-year hiatus, the official press reported on Wednesday.

Communist Party daily Granma said that so far this year Cuban authorities have authorized 2,848 operators licenses for private transport services, an increase of 81 percent, and that in June 1,280 applications were being processed.

In December 2008, when the issuance of such permits for individuals was resumed – as President Raul Castro had announced month earlier that it would be – there were 3,486 of the licenses extant on the communist island.

The paper said that 30 percent of the permits were granted to operate such services in Havana.

The head of the State Traffic Unit, Jose Conesa, said that the issuance of the licenses had allowed the government to regularize an activity that “was going on, in the majority of cases, improperly and illegally.”

Many individuals who have taken advantage of the new law were offering such services illegally before, given that the granting of the permits was suspended in October 1999 despite the scarcity of transport on the island.

The first permits for the activity were granted in 1996, in the middle of the “special period,” Cubans’ euphemism for the deep economic depression their country slid into after the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the drying-up of the heavy subsidies Moscow had provided to the island.

In May, capital transit authorities announced that they were going to step up their pursuit of transport service providers operating without the requisite permit.

People who offer such services illegally face fines and even the seizure of their vehicles, in the case of repeat offenders.

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One Response to Cuba: Doubled Private Transportation Permits So Far in 2009

  1. Pingback: Cuba: Doubled Private Transportation Permits So Far in 2009 … | Cuba today

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