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Cubans Shocked at Prices as Foreign Cars Go on Sale

posted on Jan 22 2014 by Jade Hensby

Cubans Shocked at Prices as Foreign Cars Go on Sale

Cubans have reacted with shock after foreign-made cars went on sale for the first time since the 1959 revolution, at what some termed crazy prices.

The state has a monopoly on new car sales and has set massive mark-ups. For example, a Peugeot 508 is listed at $262,000, while on the website in the UK it puts its prices as £29,000. State salaries in Cuban average around $20 per month. Freeing up car sales is the latest in a series of reforms, as a permit to buy new vehicles is no longer required.

Speaking outside one of the dealerships in Cuba, a local resident said “The prices are crazy. No Cuban who works for the state can buy at that price. They have zero chance of getting a car”. The government argues that the profits will be placed in a special fund to develop public transport, for the money is desperately needed because what they currently have is now in a decrepit state.

However, it may appear that some Cuban residents have the money to splash out on the new cars. An attendant at one car store in Havana has said that they sold six vehicles by 2pm the week it came out, with the most expensive selling for $50,000. Before the 2011 regulations, people needed a much sought after government permit to buy new cars, a privilege that was mainly bestowed on senior officials, athletes and artists.

The latest reforms come as a move driven by President Raul Castro, and is aimed at updating the Cuban economic deal.