Source Pravda.Ru

Havana Overwhelmed with Traffic

Island's economy recovers from ten years of recession

Cuban economy is recovering from its a decade of stagnation. As a proof of that, traffic jams in the Capital became a day to day issue and officials try to find alternatives to normalize the situation. The problem they face is that the new scenario on Havana's streets is endangering lives.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of violent death on the island. Therefore, it is essential to restore order to Cuba's streets and highways, now that the people no longer depends on bicycles to move around the city. Apparently, the shortages of the 1990's are history.

New laws are to be passed by the beginning of next year. Among other things, drivers will be banned from using a cell phone with their hands, playing overly loud music, or abandoning a car with engine problems in the road — a common practice.

Authorities hope the new law will "increase caution and responsibility by drivers,'' said Maj. Raul Mora, of the Interior Ministry's Legal Division. After the collapse of the former Soviet Union, petroleum supplies dried up and many people took to the streets in bicycles to get to work or school. Now, Cuba announces proudly a record oil production in 2002, which means an increasing of 20% in respect of 2001.

Also, Venezuela played an important role, generously supplying Cuba with its oil production. However, the crisis in the South American country will oblige Cuba to increase its production next year not to be subject to the international market.

Cuba admitted foreign investments to develop its oil industry. Since then, productivity and production levels reached international standards and looks like one of the more dynamics sectors of the economy.

Despite the 40 years US block to island's trading activity, Castro managed to survive to ten years of shortage and now can show the world development programs. Many are afraid the worldwide oil crisis may impact country's economy, which imports crude. However, Cuba has resisted decades and decades of shortages and crisis; therefore, nobody doubts is the best prepared country to make do in straining conditions.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

Photo: Revolution Square in Havana

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