Cuba eases restrictions on car imports

Cuba’s Council of Ministers has approved new regulations to lift a virtual 50-year ban on car imports, the official newspaper Granma reported Thursday.

The new regulations, approved Wednesday at a meeting between Cuban leader Raul Castro and his cabinet, will also apply to motorcycles, vans and minibuses, both new and used, the report said.

Prior to the approval, only foreign residents and privileged Cubans with so-called “letters of authorization” issued by the Transport Ministry had the right to import vehicles.

Those with this special permission will still be given the priority in importing and purchasing vehicles, the report said.

The only restriction to remain is that neither Cubans nor foreigners who bring in a vehicle can then sell it to an individual.

Over the decades, the restriction had turned the streets of Havana into a kind of outdoor automobile museum as old models of U. S.-made cars in the 1950s were carefully preserved in near mint condition. That could change with the opening up of the auto market.

Most vehicles on the island are pre-1959 models that have been maintained with Korean and Japanese-made parts. (Source: Xinhua)

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