Will Island's Ecological Solutions Survive Economic Opening?
by Bill Weinberg, Earth Island Journal
Bicycle-taxi driver Yeral García has a keen sense of the events on the world historical stage that led to him pedaling me around Old Havana.
"In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Russia cut back subsidized oil to Cuba," he told me while deftly maneuvering through the traffic. "The country was paralyzed. Those were terrible years. But the government began importing bicycles."
Indicating the pedal-cab he was assiduously working as he spoke, he added, "That’s where this came from."
But these taxis, while plentiful on the streets of Havana, are lone survivors of that era. Although universally called bici-taxis, they are actually tricycles—retrofitted work-trikes initially imported from China to carry loads around the city during that interval of crisis and scarcity referred to officially as Cuba's "Special Period."