Unbeknownst to many, Cuba is the only country in the world where the people aren’t able to purchase cars built after 1959. After the country converted to Communism in 1959, Cubans would need to apply for government approval to buy cars that were built after the revolution. Furthermore, it is next to impossible for them to get the approval. That explains why the Cubans relied on American cars from the 1950’s to transport them around for over 60 years. However, that is set to change, and now Cubans are allowed to buy and own new cars, thanks to a change in legislation.
In a step towards the country’s greater economic freedom, in 2011 the government allowed its citizens to buy and sell cars from each other, but only after requesting authorization from the government to do so. With that said, the sales of new or used motorcycles, cars, vans, small trucks and mini buses are allowed to Cubans and foreign residents, companies and diplomats. However, many exploited the scheme where the vehicles were resold to Cubans at four or five times the price.
That has prompted the government to remove the approval process in order to allow everyone in Cuba freedom to buy new and used vehicles. The move is among the many reforms introduced by President Raul Castro, who five years ago, took over from his ailing brother Fidel, and approved in 2011 at a congress of the Communist Party, which is coincidentally Cuba’s only legal political party.
However, this move will make cars are still unaffordable to many Cubans as newer cars were slapped with a 100% tax, meant to fund Cuba’s public transport system. But perhaps this is one step ahead for Cubans to get newer and better cars after relying on American jalopies for decades.
“It took me months to get a famous letter of authorization to buy a car after going on two international missions, and I had to see a number of people,” said Antonio, a doctor who asked that his last name not be used.
“Now it will be much easier to buy a car, and this eliminates the corruption that these regulations and controls always seem to spawn.”