Havana, April 27 (IANS/EFE) Cuba registered in the first quarter of this year 8,390 private sales of automobiles and 2,730 private real estate transactions, according to official figures published Thursday by daily Granma.
As part of the reforms undertaken to update Cuba's socialist model, the government of Raul Castro in 2011 authorized the buying and selling of automobiles and homes among private citizens, a move that put an end to decades of prohibitions on transactions of that kind.
Granma Thursday emphasized that between January and March 2012 the "increasing trend" in the transfer of these types of property that had begun by the end of 2011 is continuing.
Besides these types of purchases and sales, during the first three months of this year authorities registered 10,660 additional donations of vehicles and 6,780 of houses.
The decree permitting the donation, purchase and sale of automobiles among Cuban citizens and foreigners living in the country and making more flexible the procedures for transferring vehicles by departing emigrants went into effect Nov 1, 2011.
Nevertheless, the restriction on Cubans buying completely new autos remains in force and the government continues to control those purchases by issuing permits for such acquisitions through the Transportation Ministry.
For more than 50 years, in Cuba people could only buy or sell autos manufactured prior to 1959, most of them US-built.
The old cars continue to ply the streets of Cuban cities thanks to the ingenuity of their owners at keeping them running and they have become part of the country's local colour.
A few weeks after the decree governing auto transactions another one entered into force authorizing the buying and selling of homes among private citizens, and it also facilitated other methods of transferring such property, including swaps and voluntary donations.
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