Until recently, Cubans could not sell a house outright. They would need to effect a trade. Cubans would need to place an advertisement indicating the house to eb traded, and specify the type of desired house. The Cuban would need to find someone who is willing to trade houses with. The houses have to be of the same value–as assessed by the government. Only trades of equal value are allowed.Of course, the most basic economic principles teach us that people will not make exchanges for equal value–would you trade $1 for $1? Trades are only made for items valued differently for the parties. If there is a difference in price, one party would need to throw in extra cash. But people in Cuba lack cash. Often the “seller” will need to motivate the “buyer” to take over *worse* place. There is a serious shortage of housing. It is common, thus, for three generations of families to live in the same apartment.
But change is afoot in Cuba. Although the island nation still has an oppressive regime, (far too slowly), the Castro regime has begun to roll back communism, and its aversion of public property (Here’s a joke. Why does Karl Marx not like Earl Gray Tea. He opposes proper tea). One of the most important development is recent reforms that allow a person to sell property. Rules that went into effect on 10/10/11, allow property owners to buy and sell homes directly.
The new rules go into effect on Nov. 10, according to Cuba’s state-run newspaper, and while some of the fine print is still being written, the law published on Thursday amounts to a major break from decades of socialist housing. For the first time since the early days of the revolution, buyers and sellers will be allowed to set home prices and move when they want. Transactions of various kinds, including sales, trades and gifts to relatives by Cubans who are emigrating, will no longer be subject to government approval, the new law says.
Another recent article in the Times about opening up Cuba to internet access has this funny bit, about a Cuban who could only afford to pay for expensive internet access because he sold his home, combines the two threads:
“At this price, hardly anyone is going to be using it,” said Mr. García, who figured he could afford to buy an hour or two a week because his daughter helped him out and he had just sold his house.
On a recent educational trip to Cuba, a friend took a number of photographs from Cuba, documenting many of the new “For Sale” (Se Vende) signs throughout the country.
Advertisements, and commercial speech are something we take for granted, but in a Communist country with nothing to sell, there are very few, if any ads. Here is an ad for Beck’s beer.
Here is an ad for what can only be a male prostitute.