For over a week now, the taxistas in Granada have been on strike. The are protesting the sale of 60 new medallions that came about as a result of a study showing that Granada needed more taxis. The taxis are all parked around Central Park. The taxistas are drinking beer, playing cards, harassing city workers. It got ugly two days ago when they started burning tires at around 5 in the morning. Then they shot off a lot of fireworks and mortars. Then they reportedly supplied a bunch of thugs with beer, sticks, stones and more mortars. Their targets were scab taxis at first and then just anybody. Finally, the police got the word from Managua to restore some order. See the police here are national, not local. They have no loyalty to the mayor who is a different party than their bosses. So they don’t do anything.
It would seem that the point of a strike would be to generate sympathy, but at the moment everybody is mad at them. People depend on the taxis to get to work because no one has their own transportation. Buses go but they are slow and crowded. One of the great joys in Granada is that a taxi costs 50 to go anywhere in the city. But folks are very pissed. They are fed up with taxistas charging more to go to further out neighborhoods. They are universally decried as being dirty and bad mannered. I once flagged one down who couldn’t open the doors of his filthy taxi. He may have been drunk.
Angel brings word of the situation every day when he comes in the morning. He has to borrow one of the bikes because usually he gets a free ride from one of his friends to our house. He says the problem is political. The mayor is liberal and the taxistas are Sandinistas. He says it is always like this; the mayor’s office refuses to talk until someone dies. One person dies, and then they sit down. Actually the did finally meet yesterday with the new bishop mediating. No agreements. This morning Cristina said they were burning tires over on our side of town because they realized taxis are operating along the edges.
Meanwhile, it is delightfully quiet in the streets because the taxistas aren't driving around honking at anyone they see pause for a moment on the sidewalk and the running has been great free from speeding taxis down by the lake. Things must be getting hard for families. It is unlikely that any taxistas have savings to weather a strike and there isn't any union to take care of them.