Cuba is taking another baby step toward capitalism, making it legal, for the first time in more than 50 years, for citizens and residents to buy and sell homes, a state-run newspaper announced today. It’s the latest and, according to a BBC correspondent, most significant in a string of free market reforms under Raul Castro. Of course, Cubans have effectively been selling homes for years, Reuters notes; they could legally swap homes, and money would pass under the table if one was larger.
Now those transactions will be legal—and the government will get a cut in taxes. “Many people have lived and live with the fear of losing their homes because they (were) acquired in an illegal way,” one Havana resident said. “Now they'll be able to legalize them and to sleep in peace.” There will still be restrictions, however: most notably that everyone can own at most one primary residence and one vacation home, and that only citizens and permanent residents can buy. (Read more Cuba stories.)