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12/19/13 - Businessweek - Cuba's 1950s Era Chevys Easier to Sell After  Castro Ends Permits

Cuba's government said it will make it easier for residents to sell their
1950s-era Chevrolets, Cadillacs and other used cars within the communist
island.

"After several months of study, it was decided to eliminate the existing
measures requiring state approval of the sale of vehicles," according to a
statement today in state-run newspaper Granma that cited the ruling Council
of Ministers.

A U.S. trade embargo first put in place on Cuba in 1962 after Fidel Castro
came to power has helped keep the Caribbean island's auto market frozen in
time, with models like the fin-tailed Chevy Bel-Air and Cadillac Coupe de
Ville often used as taxis outside tourist hotels. Few Cubans own cars,
relying on decaying public transport the government says needs to improve.

President Raul Castro, who officially succeeded his brother Fidel in 2008,
has moved to ease some travel restrictions as well as allow more
cooperatives and private businesses to operate in the $61 billion economy.
The country depends on about 100,000 barrels per day of subsidized
Venezuelan oil to sustain the economy, while a vow by 82-year-old Castro to
dismiss 500,000 state workers hasn't been carried out.

The government said about 30 percent of autos sold with government approval
last year were quickly re-sold, indicating that the system was causing
"speculation and enrichment."

The new measures, which will be implemented "gradually," will set a minimum
price for auto sales, which the government can tax to help pay for better
public transport. The government said it will maintain the requirement for
approval to import new and used cars.

A partial U.S. embargo on the island remains in place as the two
governments cooperate in areas such as the fight against drug trafficking.
Negotiations on a direct mail service re-started earlier this year. Raul
Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands for the first time last
week at a memorial service for late South African leader Nelson Mandela.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Faries in Miami at
wfaries@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at
asoliani@bloomberg.net


Original Source / Fuente Original:
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-12-19/cuba-s-1950s-era-chevys-easier-to-sell-after-castro-ends-permits


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