By Desmond Boylan
“I am 70-years-old and I still feel strong, but legally I can’t work as a taxi driver because of my age,” Gilberto Ruiz told me the first time I met him. I had asked him about his pickup truck, a Ford, obviously pre-Revolution, with a shape I’d never seen.
He continued, “One day I suddenly had an idea. I’ll cut up my 1948 Ford Deluxe Sedan and weld it into a van and work the private transport business.”
My first thought was, “Wow, this man has imagination.” I immediately liked him and tried to get to know him better. I started to document his activity through pictures.
Economic activity and private enterprise are rising in Cuba under a full new set of guidelines resulting from last year’s Communist Party Congress. With economic reforms still unfolding, Gilberto’s business of delivering bulky construction materials is booming. His new mobile phone, only recently legalized, never stops ringing. New restaurants and houses are being built and others refurbished, and that creates new customers for him.
Gilberto didn’t think twice. He cut open the back of his 64-year-old sedan, welded it into a pickup truck and now is happy working. He has plenty of customers and his list is getting longer. Gilberto’s permit to work with his car as a private-licensed taxi had expired, so he went and literally welded himself a new job.