Friday, March 23, 2012

Havana Faces New Public Transportation Crisis

Havana Faces New Public Transportation Crisis
March 22, 2012
Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES, March 22 — Once again Havana's public transportation
system is in crisis. Again the mass media of the party-government are
pointing the finger at "transportation workers and indisciplina social
(public negligence)."

Again they are advocating more control and repressive measures used
against workers and the bus users.

For some of them, it seems "these people don't deserve the sacrifices
made by the state. They aren't worthy of the confidence of their leaders."

Yet the state-government is maintaining its low wages at state
enterprises and continues to ignore the proposals by workers and the
left for introducing co-management, self-management and cooperatives in
this sector.

Indeed, they are failing to live up to their own "Guidelines" reform
program as it relates to the extension of co-cooperativism in all
spheres of production and services, though that plan was approved almost
a year ago (last April) by the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party (PCC).

How much longer will we remain in this cycle of political, economic and
social inconsistencies?

How much longer we will have to listen to the "journalist" defenders of
the bureaucratic status quo, expressing the same anti-proletarian and
anti-popular dribble?

How much longer will truly socialist proposals be ignored by the

In an article written in July 2006, almost six years ago, under the
title "The Urban Transportation Crisis in Havana. An Alternative:
Transportation Cooperatives," I noted: "When these buses arrive
(referring to the Chinese Yutong buses) a set of measures will be
required to ensure their correct and rational use. Without these, what
could soon occur is what always happens: After a few months or a few
years, the entire fleet will have to be replaced due to the lack of
proper maintenance and use."

Well, here are the facts. Today we are facing the same problem, which
has as its principal causes: the nationalization and centralization of
public transportation; the lack of encouragement of private carriers to
become organized into cooperatives; and finally, the lack of the
socialization of that industry.

We are left reiterating the same proposed solutions that the state
refuses to set in motion, and to a certain extent the workers themselves
are applying in their own way. Drivers are taking part of the bus fares
to buy spare parts and pay mechanics and bus washers, as well as part
for their personal benefit, of course.

In the absence of organized socialization, popular initiative and
private capitalism are filling the void.

In that article what was proposed was the cooperativizing of public
transportation and the creation of conditions to economic and socially
stimulate the cooperativization of private transport providers with the
goal of ensuring transportation stability, quality and low prices.

There were two basic proposals, which I am summarizing below but
without repeating the detailed arguments:

1- "Create self-managed socialist transportation cooperatives with
groups of workers organized in each bus terminal, so that all of the
cooperatives of the terminals in Havana unite to form a union of urban
transportation cooperatives.

2- "Eliminate the current restrictions on the issuing of licenses to
individual carriers and lower the cost of licenses. Instead of trying to
eliminate this type of worker through taxes and other administrative
measures, the state should assist them by providing loans and discounts
on the purchase of spare parts and accessories to those workers who are
willing to form traditional cooperatives that also include mechanics,
body work shops, flat tire repairers, and other related workers, with
their own resources."

Instead of what was suggested, permission was allowed only for issuing
licenses to private carriers. What's more, rather than encouraging them
to form cooperatives, the government-state has encouraged those who have
a lot of money to buy several vehicles and exploit workers. The chaos
with regard to public transportation is well known and the fares for
private taxis have increased.

We can recall that in the early years of the revolution when the
imperialist blockade was tightened, workers sought out ways to repair
vehicles through their own wits. Thousands of mechanics, lathe
operators, milling machine operators and foundry workers took part in
and supported this effort.

That enthusiasm, which was typical throughout all of the early
revolutionary period, faded and was never replaced by the process of the
socialization of ownership. This should have followed to achieve that
so-called "sense of belonging," which is now being called for but
without changing the conditions of wage-labor exploitation employed by
the state.

It could now be that reform czar Marino Murillo has been able to secure
additional loans for spare parts and new buses on his recent visits to
China and the Ukraine. When these arrive they will improve
transportation but only to the point of reinitiating the cycle if state
relations of wage-labor production are not changed.

In the meantime, workers and the population in general will continue to
be blamed for the crisis and be made to carry the weight on their
shoulders, while the bureaucracy — in their modern air-conditioned cars
with white, green, blue, and yellow license plates — will continue
demanding workplace and social discipline.

When the workers and the people get tired of supporting such disastrous
situations and affronts, they won't place the blame on "imperialism, its
agents, counter-revolutionaries, instigators or anarchists."

The real and sole ones responsible for the "destabilization of socialism
in Cuba" are those who are reluctant to promote it, as they digress
among neo-liberalist and neo-Stalinist approaches and frolic with the
fire of national and foreign capitalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment