Monkey Wrenches in Buying/Selling Cars in Cuba

Daisy Valera

Cars like this Moskovich can now be sold or inherited. Photo: Caridad

The issue of the purchase/sale of private automobiles — raised prior to the recent congress of the Cuban Communist Party — generated more than 13,816 opinions in the discussion of the subsequently approved “Guidelines” document.

Guideline 286 detailed the decision to allow the purchase of vehicles, and now on September 27 many people were anxious to get ahold of the Gaceta Oficial (No. 031), in which several ministries formally established the new laws for the sale and transfer of these properties.

The new legislation appears to be ending what were for many years were illegal constraints on private individuals and businesses.

From now on negotiations can be entered into by foreign residents in addition to nationals who own vehicles obtained after the 1959 triumph of the revolution.

Among these are the Ladas and Moskoviches (Russian makes) obtained over decades by professionals, as well as those vehicles that have been acquired by athletes, artists and doctors over the past decade.  To affect a transaction, the buyers and sellers are only required to have the mediation of a notary.

An interesting point about Decree No. 292 is that in the transaction process, although it requires the buyer to submit a list of the motor vehicles they own, there’s no limit on the number of vehicles that can be purchased.

Likewise, there’s a provision for the purchase of vehicles by authorized trading entities.

This option (that of buying a new or used car from a dealer) is allowed only for those people whose job functions assigned by the government (or in their acting in its interest) have permitted them to be paid in hard currency CUCs.

These people are not asked to give up any previously acquired vehicles, and authorizations for purchases will be made every five years.

Another point to highlight in the new decrees and resolutions is that people leaving the country to reside abroad will be able to assign ownership of their vehicles to close relatives as long as the Ministry of Transport doesn’t deny the transfer of property for “reasons of public utility or social interest.”

So far the principal law changes have pleased most people here in Cuba, and of course I’m one of them.  In some ways these have addressed a demand that has existed for many years.

Still, there are issues worth reflecting on.

I hope that with the new car purchases by individuals we won’t also see the creation of private transportation companies, which could lead the government to ignore its responsibility for what has been a public service, albeit deficient. Such a position would leave people at the mercy of “self-employed workers” (profit-seeking private owners in this case).

Nor am I in total agreement with selling the best vehicles to government officials.  Many of them have demonstrated themselves to be no more than opportunists anxious to taste the honey of power.

Embezzlement within ministries and consequent purges in recent times should have been enough to prevent the new legalization from extending such a privilege.

Then too, the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Transportation may decide which vehicles will remain in the hands of the state alleging their supposed usefulness.  Unfortunately this provision is open to illegalities and abuses that wouldn’t be hard to imagine for any Cuban.

For the moment we can only hope for positive results in the implementation of this new policy.


One thought on “Monkey Wrenches in Buying/Selling Cars in Cuba

  • Cuba’s private transportation sector, also known as ten peso cabs, and the bici-taxis have demonstrated an ability to fill in spaces where the public sector has not been able to solve public transportation problems in Cuba.

    The new system of buying and selling cars by private individuals helps to de-criminalize a informal reality which has been a fact of life for years. No system is perfect. This latest change represents an effort to make Cuban society work better.

    Despite inevitable problems with the implementation of any new program, it’s good to read Daisy Valera’s conclusion: “For the moment we can only hope for positive results in the implementation of this new policy.”

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