HAVANA, Cuba.- “There are no batteries of any kind in any of the MLC stores that sell parts and accessories for cars and motorcycles in Havana. Rubber bands of all sizes are also in short supply. None of the pieces in greatest demand go on sale, managers and employees receive commissions from resellers who keep all this merchandise to sell it on the black market four or five times above its real value, ”he explained. the A CubaNetJordán Herrera, a young transporter who lives in Mayabeque.
The shortage of car and motorcycle batteries, and their high value in the informal market, has forced Cubans once again to innovate and seek alternatives. In a Mayabeque workshop, batteries are repaired and even made from waste and old batteries.
Julián González, nicknamed “el Rubio”, told us about the restoration and manufacturing process: “Batteries are essential devices in cars, they store chemically and then release electrical energy, they all have positive and negative lead electrodes that they are submerged in electrolytes and separated from each other by insulating plates, the positive plates are those that deteriorate over time. What we do is take them apart, rebuild and replace glass by glass all the defective plates”.
“From several discarded batteries we can bring to life a 100% functional battery that can last for months, even more than a year. It is a difficult and cumbersome process, but with the prices of new batteries on the black market, for many it is a good option”, he added.
“A 60 amp battery in stores has a value of 80 MLC, about 13,600 pesos; However, in the informal market and due to the scarcity, resellers sell it for 40 thousand, four or even five times its real value, so I had to buy a homemade battery, it’s much cheaper although I know it’s not It will doubt me the same time as a new one”, he commented to CubaNet Carlos Dimas, a driver of a Russian Lada car from the 80s.
“It is the fault of the State that does not have the stores supplied. They charge in advance because at the same time that the euros or any other foreign currency is put in the bank, they already have the money in hand before we buy anything. Even so, there are no tires, no batteries, or anything, I don’t know what they do to the money,” added Carlos.
Engine pistons, rings, gaskets, rubber accessories, chocks, shock absorbers, batteries, inner tubes, among many other things made by hand, are the reason why automobiles that are more than half a century old are still rolling. on the roads.
“Necessity makes ingenuity flourish,” said some of the interviewees, who added that “the vast majority of spare parts for cars that drive in Cuba are homemade and this has caused accidents to increase.”
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