Desde Dentro de Cuba.
Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org
February 10, 1999, Cuba Free Press.
PALMA SORIANO'S INDEPENDENT DRIVERS PARALYZE LOCAL PASSENGER TRANSPORT By Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, Cuba Free Press.
HAVANA - Palma Soriano truck drivers in the province of Santiago have paralyzed passenger transportation in and from that town to various others as a result of government directives that affect their pay and working conditions.
Alexis Rodríguez Fernández, national coordinator of the movement called Youth for Democracy told Cuba Free Press that the independent drivers held a meeting Feb. 13 at the offices of the Basic Unit of Transportation Management with representatives of the National Office of Contributions and of the Transportation Ministry and with the vice president of the Assembly of People's Power.
The government officials told the workers to cut their charges for travel but said the government would not reduce the monthly tax of 500 pesos imposed on each driver plus 10 pesos for every trip so as to pay for "routing papers." They also ordered the drivers to collect fares at each stop and charge according to the distance traveled by each passenger. In the past, a single fare was charged irrespective of distance traveled.
As a result of the new directives, drivers who were working on their own and transporting about 90 percent of the passengers have stopped working.
Rodríguez Fernández also said public transportation practically does not exist. Primary and secondary school children and workers were unable to go to their schools or working places today (Feb. 10).
Various truck drivers contacted by the youth movement said they would not accept the new directives even though the drivers also had been promised that they would be given gasoline so that they could reduce their prices. They were suspicious of the promises.
The local radio station "Radio Baragua" reported the situation to the listeners. And stations throughout the province broadcast a call by the provincial transportation director to the truck drivers to get back to work under government terms so as not to affect the public.
The Palma Soriano drivers carried passengers to and from various cities, including Santiago, San Luis, Grillo, Dos Palmas, Mella and Contramaestre.
Members of dissidence groups said they suspect similar situations exist in other municipalities throughout the province.
Efrén Martínez Pulgarón, Cuba Free Press.
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