Cuba eases 50-year-old restrictions on car imports
HAVANA (AFP) - Cuba announced Thursday it will ease restrictions on car imports for the first time in half a century, marking the end of an era that made icons of the island's vintage automobiles.
The official newspaper Granma said the decision to allow cars to be imported for sale at market prices on the island was taken Wednesday by Cuba's council of ministers.
It said the decision will gradually free up retail sales of all manner of vehicles - automobiles, vans, trucks and motorcycles - and end the practice of granting some Cubans special permission to bring in vehicles as a privilege.
Granma acknowledged the so-called "letters of authorization" issued by the transport ministry had generated "resentment, dissatisfaction and, in not a few cases ... (were) a source of speculation and enrichment." Holders of the letters, however, will still be first in line to buy cars while the new system is phased in, Granma said.