Cuba Daily Life
  • Cuba Daily Life
  • Antique cars are seen in a street of Havana, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
  • Image Credit: Associated Press
  • Cuban Car
  • Cuban Car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuba Daily Life
  • In this Oct 12, 2013 photo, tourists ride in a classic American car on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
  • Image Credit: Associated Press
  • CUBA-RUSSIA-WARSHIPS
  • Vintage US-made cars pass by as Cubans watcht the 'Moskva' Russian guide missile cruiser arriving at Havana's harbour, on August 3, 2013. The vessel is part of a three-ship group in official visit to Cuba. AFP PHOTO/Adalberto ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial
  • Cuba Car
  • Cuba Car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuba Car
  • Cuba Car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • car, havana
  • car, havana
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cars in Cuba - 37
  • Cars in Cuba - 37
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuba car
  • Cuba car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cars in Cuba, Cuba
  • Cars in Cuba, Cuba
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuba Cars
  • Cuba Cars
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuba 2010 - Classic car
  • Cuba 2010 - Classic car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cars in Cuba - 19
  • Cars in Cuba - 19
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Green car
  • Green car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • car
  • car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Pink Cadillac in Cuba
  • Pink Cadillac in Cuba
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • The obligatory old car
  • The obligatory old car
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuban Car in Havana
  • Cuban Car in Havana
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Por las carreteras de Cuba 2
  • Por las carreteras de Cuba 2
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • Cuba
  • Cuba
  • Image Credit: Flickr
  • HAVANA-AUGUST 12:Old classic Chevrolet August 12,2011 in Havana.Under the current law that the government plans to change before 2012,Cubans can only trade cars that were on the road before 1959
  • HAVANA-AUGUST 12:Old classic Chevrolet August 12,2011 in Havana.Under the current law that the government plans to change before 2012,Cubans can only trade cars that were on the road before 1959
  • Image Credit: Shutterstock
One could hardly blame Cuban consumers for suffering from a bout of 'sticker shock' when new car shopping this week – after all, they haven't had the opportunity since 1959. But it isn't just a half-century of inflation that buyers are having to wrap their heads around this week, it's massive markups.

Reuters is reporting that with the Cuban state opening up the sale of new vehicles without special dispensation, price markups of 400 percent and more are turning away would-be shoppers in droves. In a country where average monthly wages total just $20, you can imagine the shock and incredulity that is accompanying word of a state-run Peugeot dealer asking $262,000 for a 508 – a D-segment model that typically lines up against cars like the Ford Mondeo.

And it's not just new cars that are suffering from the markups – Reuters interviewed Cuban artist Cesar Perez, who was looking at an unspecified 2005 Renault. The used car lot's price was $25,000, where similar models trade for just $3,000 outside of the island nation. "These prices show a lack of respect for all Cubans. What is here are wrecks. I now have no hope of getting a car for my family," he said.

The price gouging is being viewed by at least one analyst, John Kirk, a Canadian academic expert on Latin America, as a "luxury tax imposed by the government on the nouveau riches of Cuba." No matter what it is, with such heady prices, Cuba's venerable culture of keeping old automobiles alive by whatever means are available seems unlikely to change any time soon.


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