Cuba lifts all restrictions on motor vehicle sales
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Acknowledging that its attempt to ease some controls on the sale of
motor vehicles had led to “illegalities,” the Cuban government announced
Thursday that it was lifting the last restrictions but keeping its
monopoly on imports.
The Granma newspaper said key change will be an end to the requirement
that Cubans buying a new vehicle must first get a hard-to-obtain letter
of approval from the Transportation Ministry — a requirement that led to
All controls also will be lifted on the sale of cars, trucks, vans and
motorcycles, both new and old, among both Cubans and foreigners, the
newspaper reported, saying the decision was reached at a Council of
Ministers meeting last week.
Also freed will be the sale of gasoline and diesel motors and body
panels from junk vehicles owned by the state, such as rental car and
vans that have been involved in accidents.
The report on Granma, official voice of the ruling Communist Party,
marked an admission that the half-measures adopted in a reform of the
motor vehicle market two years ago did not work well and led to
subterfuges to get around the remaining controls.
The changes “are additional steps to eliminate restrictions that with
time lost their reason for being,” the newspaper reported. “With them,
administrative hurdles that opened spaces for illegalities disappear.”
“The low supplies of vehicles, their restriction to a reduced group …
and the existence of another market where prices are many times higher …
generated nonconformity, dissatisfaction … speculation and enrichment,”
All imports and the prices of new vehicles will remain up to the
government, the newspaper noted. Profits will go toward improving mass
For half a century, Cubans could only freely buy and sell cars that had
been imported before the 1959 revolution — the main reason why their
owners took so much care to keep them running that the island won fame
for its classic cars.
The state imported all new vehicles and sold them only to selected
individuals — government officials and supporters, military officers and
physicians, especially those who had worked abroad and been able to save
up hard currencies.
Cubans nevertheless bought and sold post-1959 vehicles on the black
market — if stopped by police, the driver could argue that the legal
owner had loaned him the vehicle — until the reforms two years ago first
allowed the sale of used post-1959 vehicles.
Immediately after the reform, tens of thousands of title transfers were
recorded, according to Cuban government figures. The majority were
reported to be illegal transactions made before 2011 and now being
Cuban ruler Raúl Castro has been moving away from a Soviet styled,
centrally controlled economy and toward more of a market economy since
he officially succeeded ailing brother Fidel in 2008.
He has laid out scores of needed “updates” but proceeded with caution,
drawing complaints that while his diagnosis of Cuba’s economic problems
has been correct, his remedies have been too weak and slow
Source: “Cuba lifts all restrictions on motor vehicle sales – Cuba –