Cuba Eases Ban on Car Sales

Posted September 28th, 2011 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Cuba has legalized the sale and purchase of automobiles for its citizens for the first time since the 1959 revolution.

The government announced the move in April, but sales were on hold until the measure was published into law Wednesday. The new policy had been expected as part of a series of reforms being undertaken by President Raul Castro to ease state controls on the economy.

The new regulations provide for “the transfer of ownership of vehicles for purchase, sale or donation among Cubans living on the island or foreigners who are residents of Cuba.” Foreign residents living temporarily on the island will be limited to buying or importing up to two cars during their stay.

But reports say in addition to foreign residents, only Cubans with government permission will be allowed to import vehicles, while all other Cubans will be limited to autos already on the island. Cubans leaving the country permanently will be able to sell their cars or give them to family members.

Previously, only automobiles that were in Cuba before the 1959 revolution could be freely bought and sold, which is the reason there are so many vintage cars, many of them U.S.-made, on the island's streets. Many Soviet-made vehicles can also be found on Cuban roads.

It is not clear how many Cubans will be able to buy cars, as the average person earns about $20 per month.