Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



On Saturday, the Government of Cuba made it official.  RAUL CASTRO repealed one of the world's silliest laws ever enacted.  As of October First, Cuban citizens can finally buy and sell cars.  No longer will the Cuban people be forced to save up suitcases full of pesos and meet in back-alleys with shady used-car salesmen...all just to get a Russian-made Moskvich.  While the new law is merely a minor step towards a more open-market system, it reassuring to the rest of the world that Cuba is at least trying to modernize its insane infrastructure.  Let's face it, when it comes to wacky laws and edicts, Cuba is in a universe of its own.

No...not a universe of it own...more of a time-warp of its own.  When FIDEL CASTRO usurped power in 1959, he engineered one of the shrewdest scams in world history.  Under the "Name of the Revolution," he instantly claimed ownership of everything on the island.  Usually, a coup d'etat in the Caribbean means the new guy occupies the government buildings and the TV stations.  But not FIDEL!  He took over all public and private structures...hotels, stores, factories, businesses, nightclubs and massage parlors.  Then, to insure he'd rule for the next fifty years, he stripped all private citizens of most human rights.  Things like Freedom of Speech and Private Ownership were instantly taken away...also in the "Name of the Revolution."  

But perhaps the most insane of FIDEL CASTRO's numerous laws, ordinances and edicts were those regarding automobiles.  Like other bourgeoisie luxuries, the import of all foreign cars was instantly banned.  Since there are no automobile factories on the island, this meant Cubans were stuck with what ever cars were on the island in the year 1959.  That means...with the exception of some Soviet imports...the cars and trucks on the highways and byways of the Caribbean nation haven't changed in fifty years.  Imagine the scene on a Havana street: A sky-blue '58 Chevrolet Bel Air honks as it tries to merge in front of a black '54 Chrysler Imperial.  (Don't believe me?  Ask me brother BIFF...he's been there!)

Sorry...back to Saturday's ordinance.   In addition to allowing individuals to sell their old cars, it also allowed for limited purchasing of new, imported cars as well.  Believe it or not, there are now a couple car dealerships in Cuba.  But wait...before you take that car home, amigo...you must first take a sworn oath, stating that the money used to purchase said auto was earned "solely through salary in an approved field and not through remittances from relatives abroad."  Since the average Cuban worker only earns $20 a month, we here at the DUNER BLOG don't see a lot of people buying many Bentley's or Maserati's any time soon.

Finally, in addition to the easing of automobile restrictions, the Government of RAUL CASTRO also announced new ordinances regarding private ownership.  Although the details won't be released until 2012, many see a new day dawning on the island.  It will take awhile, but someday in the not too distant future, we could see the island returning to its 1950's glory days...when Cuba was the coolest party destination on the planet.  Just ask LOUISE SUGGS.  She's the defending champion of the Havana Open Golf Tournament, which was last played in 1958.  She's 88 years old now, but still ready to defend her title.

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