Castro limo taxis: Cuba makes use of old Soviet vehicles.

Some of Fidel Castro's Old Soviet Limousines Are now Havana Taxicabs

Some of Fidel Castro's Old Soviet Limousines Are now Havana Taxicabs

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June 23 2014 3:03 PM

Some of Fidel Castro's Old Soviet Limousines Are Now Havana Taxicabs

Castro in 2010.

Photo by ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

Over the weekend the Associated Press published a lighter-side-of-life story from Cuba involving some old Soviet-made limousines that have been repurposed (click through for photos):

In a former life they were the "comandante's" cars: A fleet of black, boxy, Soviet-made limousines that for years were at the disposal of the presidency in Fidel Castro's Cuba.
Today the limos have been decommissioned and repurposed as Havana taxi cabs, at the service of tourists who want a little slice of history to go with their ride across town.

The AP quotes one of the cabs' drivers:

"A lot of drivers pull up next to me at stoplights," Suarez said. "They start laughing and they say, 'You never imagined you would be driving the comandante's car, eh?'"

Perhaps I am belaboring an obvious point (namely "the Cold War is over"), but Fidel Castro's transformation from public enemy to curiosity is an odd one. We are talking, after all, about someone who conolidated power via mass executions and whose government forbids emigration, subjects political dissidents to imprisonment and beatings, and once came very close to helping bring about the nuclear destruction of life on earth. (Castro handed over power in 2008—to his own brother.) And yet, I will admit that I myself chuckled to think of a tourist hailing one of his silly old cars.