— "Cuba legalized the sale and purchase of automobiles for all citizens on Wednesday, another major step in the communist run island's economic transformation and one that the public has been clamoring for during decades. Under the law, which takes effect Oct. 1, buyers and sellers must each pay a 4 percent tax, and buyers must make a sworn declaration that the money used for the purchase was obtained legally.
Unrestricted sales had previously been limited to cars built before the 1959 revolution, one of the reasons Cuba's streets are about the only place on the planet one routinely finds a multitude of finned American classics from the 1950s such as Chevrolets Bel Airs and Chrysler Imperials, all in various states of disrepair (see photo above)."
"Even with this new legal reform, however, the great majority of citizens are only allowed to buy a used car, which in Cuba means vehicles more than 15 years old, and in particular Russian Ladas or Moskvitches, or Polish Fiats, which were previously marketed through a meritocracy. Some modern cars in State service will be sold to those who meet the strict requirements of belonging to an institution and demonstrating their fidelity to the Government. And those impeccably new ones, recent imports, are destined for a Revolutionary elite that has in their pockets money sanctified through official channels. To drive a shiny Citroen or a late model Peugeot will continue to be a sign of being a member of the powers-that-be."
HT: Matt Bixler