HAVANA, Associated Press, July 9, 2008
Cuba says it will begin issuing licenses to operate private taxis for the first time since 1999. State radio reported Transportation Minister Jorge Luis Sierra said Wednesday that officials would soon begin authorizing private citizens to use their cars as taxis. How many licenses would be issued was not clear, but Sierra said the program would focus first on rural areas. The move could eventually legalize thousands of drivers who steer aging American classic cars through the island's streets, giving rides to neighbors for secret payments. For the government of new President Raul Castro, it's another break from his brother Fidel, who last summer singled out unlicensed private taxi drivers as wasting the island's gasoline in search of "juicy profits."