Say farewell to the most enduring image of the time bubble the Castros have built around Cuba: the kinda charming fleet ofjerry-rigged '50s American cars
clogging Havana's streets, held together with not much more than duct tape and hope.
For fifty years, the regime has forbidden most Cubans from buying or selling post-Revolution cars -- until yesterday. A new decree published Wednesday says Habaneros now can buy or sell whatever cars they want. Who's ready for a Havana full of Kias?
To be fair, the new rules aren't exactly going to let a Crazy Bob's Buick Emporium open up on every street-corner. The decree allows foreign residents or Cubans to legally import up to two cars each, which only the wealthiest of wealthy on the island could possibly afford.
But the rule also brings Cuba's flourishing auto black market into the open by giving all Cubans the right to buy and sell cars "without any prior authorization from any entity."
Previously, Cubans had to sell their '58 Chevys on the sly or else find a working computer to access Craigslist-esque sites like Revolico.com, an online black market we wrote about two years ago.
"It's a law that should have been approved a long time ago,"a taxi driver named Fabio Brito told Reuters. "This exists in all countries in the world. Why should we be different?"
The order is among the most significant -- or at least the most visible -- of Raul Castro's moves to liberalize the island's long stagnating economy. At April's Party Congress, he proposed 300 similar changes.
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Even with the new law, changes to Cuba's driving habits are going to be as slow as a smoldering torpedo cigar.
"It's a good law, but I can't even buy a bicycle," a peanut vendor tells Reuters.
(In the meantime, check out the ten sweetest old rides we found for sale on Revolico.)