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Old 03-08-2010, 10:01 AM   #1
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Default Vehicle Import Program That Brought New European Luxury Cars to Cuba Is Stopped

A government-approved import program that allowed wealthy Cubans to bring in Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars into Cuba was abruptly ended by the Cuban government last week. The program launched last April, with the stated aim of reducing pollution and fuel consumption by replacing some of the ancient Russian cars and even older American cars typically seen in the island nation.

Any car manufactured before 1990 was eligible for replacement, with the old car sold to the government. The Cuban government controls the sale of all cars, as well as who can purchase a car. The only cars that can be bought and sold by citizens are the American cars still in Cuba that were imported and sold before the Communist takeover in 1959.

The government halted the program, citing unnamed “irregularities”. No further comment was forthcoming from government officials.

A Moskvich 2140 side by side with an earlier Moskvich 408 in downtown Havana

It is well-known that the Cubans that could afford to buy a car like a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW were often buying one of the eligible old cars in order to meet the requirements for the import program.

The old cars typically sell for anywhere from $3000 USD to $40,000 USD, depending on the condition of the car, and the type of car. That price was in addition to the purchase price of the new luxury car, which was additionally increased by tariffs, duties and fees.

Doctors posted abroad, athletes and artists are in the small group of Cubans that could afford a car brought in through the import program.

Most Cubans can only dream of owning any kind of car. When an ordinary Cuban needs to go somewhere they walk or take a bus, no matter how far the distance may be.
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