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A truck carrying Cuban people with a man on his bicycle hanging onto the truck to get a tow near Cienfuegos, Cuba.
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Period
The Special Period in Time of Peace (Spanish: Período especial) in Cuba was an extended period of economic crisis that began in 1991 primarily due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the Comecon. The economic depression of the Special Period was at its most severe in the early to mid-1990s before slightly declining in severity towards the end of the decade once Hugo Chávez's Venezuela emerged as Cuba's primary trading partner and diplomatic ally and especially after the year 2000 once Cuba-Russia relations improved under the presidency of Vladimir Putin.
It was defined primarily by the severe shortages of hydrocarbon energy resources in the form of gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum derivatives that occurred upon the implosion of economic agreements between the petroleum-rich Soviet Union and Cuba, and extreme reductions of rationed foods at state-subsidized prices. The period radically transformed Cuban society and the economy, as it necessitated the successful introduction of sustainable agriculture, decreased use of automobiles, and overhauled industry, health, and diet countrywide. People were forced to live without many goods they had become used to.
Cubans were accustomed to cars as a convenient mode of transport. It was a difficult shift during the Special Period to adjust to a new way of managing the transport of thousands of people to school, to work and to other daily activities. With the realization that food was the key to survival, transport became a secondary worry and walking, hitch-hiking, and carpooling became the norm. Privately owned vehicles are not common; ownership is not seen as a right but as a privilege awarded for performance. Public transport is creative and takes on the following forms:
- Cars – old US cars common in Cuba are used as taxis to transport from six to eight passengers, stopping at locations as needed.
- Trucks – canopies and steps were added to accommodate more passengers and protect them from the natural elements; or open "dump-truck buses" are used.
- Bikes – 1.2 million bicycles were purchased from China and distributed as well as another half a million produced in Cuba.
- "Camels" – Conversion of semi-truck flatbeds into bus-like vehicles that hold up to 300 passengers.
- Government vehicles pick up passengers as needed.
- Horses and mules are used as well as bike- and horse-drawn carriages with taxi licenses are numerous both in rural and urban areas.
- Convenience for the individual is secondary to efficient use of energy.
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