Cuba to start handing out more private taxi permits
10 December 2008
HAVANA – Cuba will soon start issuing its first new private taxi permits
in a decade as the Communist-run island tries to reduce "economic
limitations" in transportation, local state media reported.
The changes, aimed at improving public transport services, were the
latest under President Raul Castro, who has taken small steps to reform
Cuba's state-run economy since formally replacing older brother, Fidel
Castro, in February.
The government issued permits to private taxis during the economic
crisis that followed the collapse of its main benefactor, the Soviet
Union, in 1991, but ended the practice around 1998. The new permits were
first announced in July.
Around 70 private trucks, jeeps and cars will be allowed to take
passengers in the central province of Cienfuegos, according to the local
"5 Septiembre" weekly paper of the ruling Cuban Communist Party.
"Due to the economic limitations in the public transportation service
… new transport operating licenses will be authorized for private
automobile owners in Cienfuegos province," the note said.
It was not clear whether more permits would be handed out in other parts
of the country, but a government resolution authorizing more private
taxis will be published this month in the official gazette, the paper said.
Raul Castro has also allowed Cubans to buy cell phone and computers for
the first time, use tourist facilities previously off-limits to Cubans,
eliminated some salary caps and instituted agricultural reforms to
He has urged debate on the island's problems and wants to streamline the
government and state-run companies.
Fidel Castro, who came to power nearly five decades ago, has not been
seen in public since July 2006 after undergoing surgery for an
undisclosed illness. But he writes essays and has met with visiting
foreign leaders in Cuba. (Reporting by Patrick Markey; Editing by Doina