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

  • January 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    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. .

  • January 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

    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 .

  • January 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

    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 ?

  • January 7, 2014 at 10:37 am

    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

  • January 6, 2014 at 10:40 pm

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

  • January 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    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.

  • January 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    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!

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