Cuba legalized the sale and purchase of automobiles for all citizens today, another major step in the island's economic transformation and one that the public has been requesting for decades. Unrestricted sales had previously been limited to cars built before the 1959 revolution, one of the reasons Cuba's streets are about the only place on the planet one routinely finds a multitude of finned American classics from the 1950s, such as Chevrolets Bel Airs and Chrysler Imperials.
The new law will allow the sale of cars from all models and years, and it legalizes ownership of more than one car, although tax rates go up slightly. Also, Cubans who leave the island for good can transfer ownership of their car to a relative or sell it outright; previously, the state could seize the automobiles of those who emigrated. The government announced the move in April, but sales have been on hold until the measure was published into law in the Official Gazette; it takes effect on Saturday. (Read more Cuba stories.)