It’s been a matter of pride – as much as frustration – for Cuban drivers to maintain a fleet of vehicles that dates back to the pre-Castro era, mostly American Ford, Chevrolet Bel and even long-gone Studebaker. But starting October 1st, the Communist government takes a significant step that could ultimately change the face of a country that, to tourists, has seemed lost in time.
Published in the party’s Official Gazette after months of delays, the new law won’t necessarily bring a flood of new Chevys and Fords – never mind Toyota, Volkswagens or Hyundais – to the island nation. But it will take the first step by legalizing the sale and purchase of automobiles by all Cuban citizens.
Only a rare few have been allowed to actually trade cars, and the number who could anything new – notably Russian-made products like a Lada – was even smaller, mostly doctors, musicians and athletes who have been given permission to travel abroad. A limited number of government workers have also been given cars – though use was closely monitored, reports the AP.