New Cars in Cuba: The Joke’s on You

Fernando Ravsberg*

In practice access to cars in Cuba is more forbidden than before, only now for the price.

HAVANA TIMES — “Who is the last in line to buy a car?” asks a Cuban in front of the Peugeot dealership and everyone else laughs out loud. Today was the first day of unrestricted new car sales but the joy received a bucket of cold water: a car costs between US $90,000 and a quarter of a million dollars.

Things are no better with the used cars being offered.  A Chinese car with several years of use and tens of thousands of miles costs more than $20,000. “I read it on the internet and I came to see for myself because I couldn’t believe it,” said Vicente Gomez, adding “this has to be a joke.”

Trucker Dorian Lopez loudly showed his indignation saying: “The prices are outrageous; it’s just so they can say they are selling cars in Cuba but it’s really disrespectful.”

It’s because “they are really Peugeot-Ferraris,” laughs another looking at the dealership window.

“This is a trap because if I show up with $260,000 to buy a Peugeot, the next day I’ll have the DTI (police) in my house to arrest me,” explains another person who went to the dealer to verify the prices.

Market Prices?

The government had announced that the cars would be sold at market value but the prices listed far exceed that parameter. Mechanics and experts I spoke with swear that no car has ever sold in Cuba for $260,000. And Guillermo Oropeza assures me “at that price you can buy three cars on the street .”

Guillermo Oropeza assures me that in Cuba “with those prices you can buy three cars on the street.”

Authorities say the profit from the sales will go to a fund dedicated to the promotion of public transport. One Cuban commented on Facebook that the government wants to solve the transport problem across the country with the sale of a single car. The irony has its reasons, every car that is sold would buy several buses.

The Ministry of Transportion would then run out of excuses. With the money from 2000 car sales they would have enough funds to buy 4,000 buses in good condition. If only 1000 cars were sold, they could still solve the public transport problem in the capital.

Now, all that is needed is for the fund to be public with the authorities regularly informing the public on how much money has entered from the sale of cars and how many buses they buy with the  huge financial resources that fall from the sky.

Obtaining a car in Cuba is now more difficult than during prohibition

The possibility of buying a car is much worse now than before the opening because the outrageous prices close the possibility of acquiring one for Cuban diplomats, most artists, many sports figures and all physicians who work abroad on international medical brigades.

“I read it on the internet and I came to see for myself because I couldn’t believe it,” said Vicente Gomez, adding that “this has to be a joke.”

But the measure does not only affect the local population. Today, when the government seeks to promote foreign investment, it does not seem like a good incentive to tell the business people that their company cars must be bought at Ferrari prices.

It appears that the theme of cars is traumatic in Cuba; none of the economic reforms of the last six years has been so obstructed. First Cubans were forbidden to purchase new cars and now they establish prices unparalleled in the world.

I doubt there is another place where cars cost so much. The prices are double the price tag in the most expensive countries. “Cubans either fall short or go too far,” once said General Máximo Gómez, the Dominican who led the struggle for Cuba’s independence.
(*) A Havana Times translation of the original published on the blog of Fernando Ravsberg.

31 thoughts on “New Cars in Cuba: The Joke’s on You

  • I readily admit that the totalitarian government of Cuba has some serious shortcomings .
    As a principled anarchist I could do no other.
    As a principled democrat I could do no other.
    Cuba is Leninist. It is led by an elite cadre .
    IMO it needs to return to a strict adherence to the marvelously democratic Poder Popular and have the Cuban people, all the Cuban people, determine the policies to be followed by the society in economics and in governing.
    As dedicated totalitarians, Fez and Moses always support a return to feral and totalitarian capitalism to the island under a similarly totalitarian government such as existed before the revolution and in resisting the US’s attempts to do so o for over 50 years , the Cuban people have expressed their clear opinion of what Fez, Moses and the USA want them to do. .
    What I will not do is totally and willfully ignore the disastrous effects of the U.S war on the people of Cuba .
    In order to do that, as Moses and Fez do, is to ignore the fact that the GOUSA finds that war on the Cuban economy to be highly successful else, why would they continue it rather than let Cuba collapse of its own failings ?
    The GOUSA, the corporate media and people like Moses]and Fez all claim to believe that socialism CANNOT work but would cut their arms off rather than lift the embargo because what they believe is simply not true and they are afraid to find that out. .

  • You are free to ignore me, historical fact and what 99% of university professors, who teach the subject, say socialism and communism are .
    I have no doubt that you would get lost at Chomsky . His books are way beyond your comprehension of world affairs, communism and socialism .
    I find it passing strange that you have nothing good to say about Raul and Fidel ever , yet take THEIR word only that Cuba is socialist .

  • Moses,
    The fact that you, like Fez either have no real understanding of what socialism or communism are or choose to ignore the true nature of these two philosophies to suit your ends, in no way makes you correct.
    As for Chomsky , you can look up on Google about his being named the top intellectual in the world . I do not expect you to believe me but the proof is available should you choose to look at it .
    Even were he not the top intellectual, his knowledge of the subject matter far exceeds yours or mine for that matter and again for either you, Fez or anyone to suggest that you know more about socialism and communism than does Chomsky is just boggling. His more than fifty books just on political matters and the fact that no one on your level of right wing will dare debate him would tend to show how impossible it is to debate him on such matters.
    Yet , you somehow think that you know more than he .
    That’s an astounding and revealing depth of arrogance on your part.
    As to my knowledge of Cuba , I’ll quote from Bakunin, one of my favorite anarchist authors :
    “Does it follow that I reject all authority ?
    Perish the thought.
    In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker”
    I would readily admit that when it comes to the day to day life in Cuba , any Cuban living there knows more about that than I do.
    When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, however , I defer to very few people , Chomsky would be one of them but certainly not either you or Fez.
    I believe you think that the U.S. has a form of democratic government when it is a de facto oligarchy .
    So while you live in this country you really don’t understand what a democracy is any more than Fez understands what socialism is.
    Sure, Fez can SAY that Cuba is socialist or anarchist or Valhalla or Disneyland for that matter but it does not make him or you correct.
    Were you able to truthfully state that a majority of university professors worldwide say that Cuba has a socialist system , you would have credence, but you cannot do that, can you ?

  • Fez’s comment addresses Cuba’s inefficiency in growing even simple staple foods….and this while enjoying some of the most arable land in the world! Cuba’s inefficiency and downright incompetence to grow it’s own food or maintain it’s own infrastructure is hardly due to the embargo. Cuban citizens are currently not all that interested in importing French wine. They are happy if they can manage rice and beans, never mind placing meat on the table!

    ….another interesting statistic. Despite it being illegal to slaughter a cow for private consumption Cuba currently has less than 1/2 the number of head of cattle that existed prior to 1959!

    They can’t seem to manage anything

  • yeah at those prices u can bet none will be sold… funny way to make experients primo.

  • Like the “Yank Tanks” of the1950’s and early 1960’s which still ply the streets of Habana, mostly as “Almendrones,” many Peugeots keep on going and going and going. Last trip I rode in one on several trips in and around Baracoa, including the terrible road towards Moa (but only as far as Playa Maguana and back), and later, returning to Habana on the “Tren Frances” I took one from the main station all the way out to Novia de Mediodia. Both owner/cabbies sang paeans for their Peugeots.

  • Fez makes a good point. He says he’s Cuban. If he wants to say that HIS country is a socialist country, who are you to tell him otherwise? You speak of US arrogance and yet you profess to know more about Cuba than a ‘Cuban’. BTW, Noam Chomsky is hardly recognized as the foremost intellectual in the world. That’s nuts!

  • Hahah why do I have to care about what foreigners have to say about my country, and the social and political system that we are told we have? We have el Partido Comunista de Cuba, the one and only! Hahaha.

    And I say it’s socialist because Fidel Castro and Raul Castro say so. hehehe. Are you trying to say that foreigners know more about politics in Cuba than the presidents of Cuba? Geez… Sorry I lost you at Noam Chom…whatever, can’t really give you much attention if you keep that subjective behavior.

  • Sure, and all you old, retired Canadians have fun walking through Rio or Mexico City in the dark of night .
    You can walk unmolested through nighttime Habana.

  • Fez,
    That you choose to categorize Cuba as either communist or socialist when no person who is an expert on the two philosophies/systems does, indicates either that you are speaking from ignorance: a lack of knowledge or are being willfully ignorant to suit your support of capitalism .
    Thinks about what you are saying.
    Noam Chomsky is a lifelong anarcho-syndicalist ( you can look up what that is) and is recognized as the foremost intellectual in the world today by his peers.
    He says that Cuba is NOT communist and NOT socialist .
    If you think that you know more about socialism and communism than he, you are exhibiting extreme arrogance.
    For your edification:
    Cuba is just a hundred or so miles from the U.S. .
    The U.S would be the main and normal trading partner were the U.S not engaged in an economic war on the Cuban people.
    In order for Cuba to get necessary products, it either has to go through third countries or find another source, both of which costs more to the country’s economy .
    Most countries import food items they cannot produce .
    The U.S. imports mangoes, bananas , European wine and cheeses etc . Cuba does the same thing .
    You would appear to be more objective and would be more effective in your comments were you to acknowledge what every leading politician in the U.S acknowledges and that is that the embargo is causing enormous harm to the Cuban economy and society AS INTENDED.

  • Are you saying that my communist and socialist country depends on the EEUU and other capitalist countries to progress? Haha you are peeing on your own ideas.

    Cuba has great relations with China, Brazil and Venezuela (and ALBA). Why do we need those imperialist european capitalist or north american cars when we can have chinese or russian cars imported by our allies?

    If you are going to keep saying that the Embargo is the reason why Cuba can’t produce food in our national soils I will have to seriously ignore your future comments. Sorry, nothing personal, you just happen to have no arguments, being completely subjective and contradictory to your own statements.

  • Thanks, you pointed out something that needs understanding.

  • You seem to forget that it is the U.S. that has a fifty plus-year economic war-.a de-normalization of relations with Cuba – that is intended to overturn the revolution. and not anything Cuba is doing that is maintaining the current hostilities.
    Your thinking is nonsensical given that it doesn’t hurt the U.S economy at all to embargo Cuba while it has cause billions over that fifty + years to the Cuban economy/society.

  • That is all you can say? You are getting old Humberto

  • You seem to have some trouble differentiating between my opposition to U.S foreign policy and my simultaneous support for the people of Cuba and my opposition to the totalitarian government and economy .
    I will grant you that most supporters of the revolution also support the government but do please realize that as an anarchist, it goes against my deepest principles to do that.
    That said, I also tend to refrain from criticizing the Cuban systems as long as they are under attack by the U.S..
    Once that economic war is over in the 2020s and if there are then no changes to a democratic economy and government as enshrined in the processes of Poder Popular, you’ll hear nothing but criticisms from me.
    I hope this makes my positions on Cuba clear for you.

  • If only a few cars are sold there will be no money to improve public transportation.
    If many cars are sold it will prove that there is, in fact, economic class stratification in what is supposed to be an egalitarian society.
    This is a lose/lose proposition

  • Victor Lar! Following in the steps of the Castro apologists! But you are behind the others dear! Take a number!

  • Walter Teague !! Thank You for that Castro Apologist ESPLENATION DEAR!

  • John Goodrich! Keep trying to excuse the Castro family oligarchy and their mafioso behavior! LOOKING GOOD!

  • Readers and Commentators of Havana Times, this story is all over the news, international and USA. Do some Googleing and you will see. But the story is so incomplete. Like many things in Cuba today, this is clearly experimental. Either no cars will sell and the program will dissolve, or the prices will adjust to meet the demand. Check back in a few weeks and we may know how it turns out. Human nature being as complicated as it is and the political economic forces inside and outside Cuba being as contradictory as they are, to say nothing of the powerful enemies in the North, making any change for the better is going to be complicated and difficult to predict. This is a battle between those who would turn Cuba into just another consumer society and those who want to maintain and improve on sanity and health in Cuba. The world doesn’t have to be divided into only Vampires and Zombies!

  • It is said that when it comes to automobiles, the French copy from no one and no one copies them.

  • C’mon Moses,
    The only reforms you would consider serious would be a surrender to the demands of Uncle Sam , a return to the Monroe Doctrine and the return of feral capitalism to Cuba.

  • Driving is a privilege and not a right. Anyway I don’t think roads in Cuba are ready for big increase in traffic.

  • It’s overpriced by the Cuban Government and CIMEX which is owned by FAR (Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces)

  • If Cuba feels they can attract Canadians to retire to Cuba those car prices are going to send most Cadadians to Brazil , Mexico , Costa Rica etc.

  • The Peugeot is an overpriced crap quality car, that’s why they don’t sell them in the US and Canada

  • Excuse me, Peugeot. Either one. Same comment.
    glen roberts

  • I’ve checked all my bookmarks and found this story only on BBC, which is rapidly becoming the International Inquirer, and Havana Times. Frankly, while I haven’t been in Cuba since 2007 and I can’t KNOW Godzilla isn’t walking the streets of Tokyo today, I DO NOT BELIEVE THERE IS A FERRARI DEALERSHIP IN HAVANA.
    -glen roberts

  • Maybe I could ship my used Chevy Impala to Cuba and exchange it for a classic?

  • And the MINREX (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba) is telling at the UN that Cuba has made steps to formally reestablish relations with the U.S. What a joke.

  • You gotta’ love the Cuban sense of humor about all of this. Still, like the recent lifting of the prohibition on home purchasing, this reform is cosmetic at best. Prices are outrageous. Nothing really has changed.

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