Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Anger as new, used cars go on sale in Cuba

03 January 2014, 21:32

Havana - Cubans hoping to snap up imported cars on Friday after the relaxation of restrictions dating back half a century had a shock with prices way out the reach of anyone but the elite.

The communist regime said last month that it would ease its ban on car imports, marking the end of an era that made icons of Cuba's vintage cars.

Opening Cuba's domestic car market to imports was expected to have fateful consequences for the lovingly maintained 1950s Chevys, Fords and Pontiacs that have survived a 50-year-old US embargo.

But there was anger and disappointment on Friday when prospective buyers in Havana laid eyes on the prices of new and used vehicles, AFP reporters said.

A swish Peugeot 4008 SUV was going for $239 500 at the Sasa dealer in the capital - nearly five times what it costs in Europe.

Used vehicles were also available in the capital, but at prices that most people in Cuba can only dream of - salaries average just $20 a month.

A 2010 Hyundai Sonata was going for $60 000 and a Volkswagen Passat in the same year had a price tag of $67 500.

"I was thinking of buying a car, and I had about $20 000 to spend, but it's impossible," one disappointed buyer, Dorian Lopez, told AFP, staring incredulously at a Sasa price list.

"With these prices, I not only cannot buy, but I can not even dream ," lamented the Cuban musician Alfred Thompson, at another dealer, in the west of Havana.

The official newspaper Granma said last month that the imported cars would be sold at market prices, a step designed to gradually free up retail sales of all manner of vehicles - cars, vans, trucks and motorcycles - and end the practice of granting some Cubans special permission to bring in vehicles as a privilege.

An abuse

The changes are a long-awaited element of President Raul Castro's attempts to gradually liberalize Cuba's Soviet-style economy.

"It is monstrous. They say that the cars are for sale in Cuba, but it is a lack of respect for the people , no one can buy at this price , it's impossible," said Bernardo Garcia, 35.

No official figures are available on Cuba's car fleet, but experts believe there are around 60 000 American cars still circulating on the island.

Mixed in with them are Soviet-made Ladas and Moskvich cars made in the 1970s and '80s and more modern, usually Asian-made, vehicles imported by the government.

The new legislation also eliminates the "Letters of Authorization" issued each year to a few thousand privileged Cubans to enable them to buy a car.

"We were miserably deceived, it is an abuse, it has been two years since I have the letter but that is for millionaires, not the people," said Mayra Echarpe, 57, of the national centre for popular music in Havana.


Tags cuba

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...