Rules for New Car Sales in Cuba Take Effect this Friday

Photo: Raquel Perez

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government said today that the recently announced decision allowing for the open market sale of new cars will take effect as of this Friday, reported dpa news.

The move, announced on 19 December, authorizes government dealers to offer imported cars to the general public at “market prices” without the need for special permission.

The new provisions repealing the old restrictions on “the purchase of motor vehicles” was published on Wednesday in the Official Gazette of Cuba.

Until now, Cubans, foreigners living on the island or state or foreign companies needed a “letter of authorization” to purchase a new vehicle.

For decades it was not possible in Cuba to buy new vehicles. The Fidel Castro led government abolished the free automotive market shortly after the triumph of the 1959 revolution. During the long period that followed it awarded some cars to officials and doctors.

In October 2011, Raul Castro’s government liberalized the sale of used cars between private individuals. Previously that had only been legally possible for cars made before 1960.

The cars in Cuba are known for being of the most antiquated in the world. On the streets of Havana abound old pre-revolution USA-made cars, and Soviet models like the Lada. Lately they have also begun to be more Chinese Geelys.

Cumbersome procedures to obtain a “letter of authorization” favored the emergence of a black market in recent years, the government itself acknowledged. The “letters” were often resold informally for up to several thousand dollars.

State companies will be responsible for importing new vehicles, according to the provisions. It is estimated that prices will increase with the entry into force of the reform.

The automotive market liberalization seeks among other things to improve the poor public transport, the government said, using the high mark up to be placed on the vehicles for sale.

2 thoughts on “Rules for New Car Sales in Cuba Take Effect this Friday

  • The major shift that is occurring in Cuba is a gradual transformation to the center.
    No question money from abroad will be buying, for relatives and friends, cars
    that are now in the marketplace starting January 3rd. As with real estate,
    there will be a gap with those able to afford and those who cannot. It will
    interesting how it all pans out. I also believe that there is an ongoing discussion
    with representatives from the USA Cuban community and Cuba on a transition
    that will accommodate all. This will be gradual but change is inevitable.
    Good people from both sides of the Straits and hopefully my relatives and
    friends who are Cuban born but live in the USA can live again in their
    Peace to all this New Year’s!

  • It is clear that this ‘reform’ is simply intended to attract more hard currency for Castro’s treasury. Recent reported estimates are that these new cars will sell for more than double the cost the regime will pay to import them. The Castros contempt for the burgeoning middle-class is obvious. Building luxury golf course resorts, yachting marinas, and allowing homes to sell for hundreds of thousands of cucs is in direct conflict with the whole egalitarian bullsh*t the revolution allegedly stands for. Yet the Castros realize that without creating these outlets for the bourgeoisie class, the hard currency these folks are stealing, receiving from abroad, or even earning will circulate out of the reach of the Castros. Nonetheless, the more Hummers, Cadillac Escalades, and Mercedes Benzes there are on the streets of Havana being driven by private restaurant owners, Cubans married to foreign spouses, or even guys who repair computers and cell phones, the harder it will be to convince regular Cubans who ride the P11 bus that the sacrifices they are making to the ‘revolution’ are worthwhile. Its a very slippery slope.

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