A booming black market in real estate is operating in Cuba, even though the government owns most property. Prices are soaring as property changes hands in a complex, illegal system called permuta, reports the New York Times. Housing swaps are permitted in Cuba, with government approval; permuta involves trading up or down, with illegal cash payments on the side.
“There aren’t enough houses, and families can’t buy them. So they trade," says a director who made a film about the process. Meanwhile, an increasing amount of paperwork is required for each swap, which means a corresponding rise in the amount of bribery necessary to grease the palms of the bureaucrats in charge.