© Krutenyuk | Dreamstime.com – Classic Old American Car On The Streets Of Havana Photo
Classic cars in Cuba are estimated at 60,000 or more still in working order and many of them are as good as or better than new thanks to Cuban ingenuity coupled with Soviet sourced parts. Fidel Castro’s rebellion started by taking over small towns in 1953 with all the Cuban poor populations’ support behind him. He entered Havana successfully overthrowing the government in power and its then President Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar in 1959, who came into power the same way he left—with violence. This man was a puppet of the gangsters who were running the very lucrative gambling casinos there. The American government did not like this-they acknowledged the country of Cuba was being run by gangsters but they were American gangsters. As a result of Fidel Castro’s coup the American government placed an embargo on the new government the same as any other democratic country would do when it has assets seized. The embargo stands to this day as does a very old Fidel Castro and his socialist government. Now the only American vehicle that can legally be bought or sold is one with the proper plate and its “trespaso” proving that it was on the island before the revolution.
© Pjworldtour | Dreamstime.com – Classic Old American Car Photo
All the gangsters moved to Nevada but their cars stayed as well as all the other vehicles there; these are mainly American made ones called “Yank Tank” or maquina by the locals. The poor Cuban people could barely afford to keep them working but keep them they did by manufacturing or adapting parts when they could and purchasing alternate substitutes from European communist countries, mainly Russia, when they needed to. The Cuban people, for the most part out of necessity kept the old cars in working order although they did not do it for the same reasons as we in North America do. Many of the cars are used for work purposes with a tradition of overloading them to get as much work done as possible with a minimum amount of fuel used by these very poor people. The cars are also driven on roads that are not very well kept in most areas of the island. Gasoline reached a high of 75 cents a liter which is more than $3.00 US per gallon during the 1980’s with diesel selling for about 15 to 20 cents per liter about the same time. A good percentage of these cars are now converted to run on Soviet made diesel engines particularly service vehicles such as taxicabs. Finding used parts cars has become progressively more difficult as well; making the diesel conversion an even more attractive option for Cubans.
© Tupungato | Dreamstime.com – Cuba – Old Car Photo
Havana was founded by the Spanish in 1519 and quickly became a major ship building port-by the middle of the 18th century it had become the most well equipped ship building port in the Americas. The oldest building dates back to 1558 with many of the original housing also preserved with their private central courtyards and on old Havana’s narrow streets, there are many small parks or plazas surrounded by formidable old buildings. A walk through the UNESCO world heritage site of old Havana is like stepping back in history with almost all the old buildings preserved and many of them restored to their original state both inside and out. This has been one of the many positive events that began taking place after Fidel rose to power.
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