14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, January 18, 2021 — When it opened on Monday morning, the used car dealership on 23rd Street between Third and First avenues in Havana’s Playa district was greeted with a line of about fifty people. They were eagerly waiting on a shipment of cars to be sold for hard currency that were scheduled to arrive that day. Despite sky-high price tags, there is a waiting list to buy them.
“People in line are saying they should be here in a few minutes,” a potential buyer tells 14ymedio. “The list is very detailed because some people want to buy as many as two cars. Everyone is waiting for the shipment to arrive but the real scramble is for the Renault Talisman and the Geely CK,” he explains.
The dealership is owned by Cimex, a subsidiary of the military-run conglomerate Gaesa, which has a monopoly on auto sales in the country. At the moment the only cars available are a few “clunkers,” which the buyers ignore. “Everyone is talking about the new arrivals. That’s why there are two lists, one for each model,” says the man.
“You can come and go as you like, my brother. I’ve got everybody’s name written down on the list here,” yells a man near the front of the line to another who wants to leave for a few minutes without losing his place.
According to the dealership’s notice board, the cars for sale at the moment are the Chinese-made Geely CK for $32,000 and two models from the French manufacturer Peugeot: a Partner for $63,971 and a 508 for $ 72,000. The coveted Renault, however, is not on the list.
“In this part of the block you can hear the money talking. You can really hear it,” jokes a neighbor as she walks by the car lot.
Cimex had been selling the cars for convertible Cuban peosos but as of February 2020 customers could only buy them with freely convertible foreign currency. Prices for the roughly thirty available models range from 34,000 to 90,000 USD.
According to the dealership, the new prices come with a 10% discount. Customers must pay for a car in full using a debit card.
Since the new purchasing process was introduced, customers have complained about mechanical problems that arose after shelling out a huge amount of cash.
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