Earlier today, Cuba announced a new law that will allow Cubans to buy and sell real estate. This follows on the heels of a number of other economic and legal reforms to rehabilitate the economy. As the Associated Press reports:
The law, which takes effect Nov. 10, applies to citizens and permanent residents only, according to a red-letter headline on the front page of Thursday’s Communist Party daily Granma.
The brief article said details of the new law would be published imminently in the government’s Official Gazette. Authorities have said previously that sales will be subject to taxes and the rules will not allow anyone to accumulate great property holdings.
The change follows October’s legalization of buying and selling cars, though with restrictions that still make it hard for ordinary Cubans to buy new vehicles.
Castro has also allowed citizens to go into business for themselves in a number of approved jobs — everything from party clowns to food vendors to accountants — and has pledged to streamline the state-dominated economy by eliminating half a million government workers.
Fidel Castro first enacted the current real estate restrictions in 1959, with the goal of fighting absentee property ownership. Many wealthy property owners at the time were in exile or off the island, waiting for the fall-out from the revolution to settle, and as a result, forfeited their property to the state.
While allowing citizens to start their own business was the first big shift in the state-run economy, allowing them to buy/sell cars was the first mark sanctioned trade between (not so) private citizens. But now Cubans will be getting a crash course in commodities that tend to only rise in value unless they’re completed neglected.
I guess when the “details of the new law” are “published imminently in the government’s Official Gazette”, we’ll have a better idea of whether this is the beginning of something new, exciting, and positive for Cubans, or if it’ll just end up driving up the price of housing on an island that’s already struggling to find enough roofs to put over its citizens’ heads.