George H. Rothacker, 2010©
Collection of Mark and Marsha Werther
As with most business in Cuba, taxi transportation has been under the control of the Communist government since the revolution in 1959. However, in September of 2009, Cuba's government began to issue permits to legalize old cars, many of which were used as black-market taxis.
The "private" taxis were meant to help alleviate the chronic transportation problems in Havana, where many people have had to hitchhike to work, and in the countryside where entire families were forced to wait by the highway for hours for transportation from one town to another.
The licenses give drivers the right to ferry fellow Cubans, but not foreigners. The taxi in the painting, waiting at the Hotel Nacional for a fare, is part of the government run fleet.