We've all seen the photographs of the old America cars driving through Havana - instant nostalgia for the Sandalistas. Now there's an editor's note in the Miami Herald which says two South Florida car dealers plan to hop the first plane for Havana when fidel dies.
Lombardo Perez owns Metro Ford in Miami - Lomberto Perez owns Autocity in Pinecrest. They point out that before castro, Cuba, in Latin America, was second only to Venezuela in cars per person. The Perez brothers think that the hunger to own cars will return.
The real question though is this - who can afford to buy a car in Cuba? The estimated monthly wage is $20. What will the country's economic system be? When fidel dies, raul is supposed to take over, and supposedly he is the really dedicated communist of the family.
The Herald touches on the problem:
Like most, the Perezes' optimism is tempered by caution. Gearing up to sell cars in Cuba will require distribution networks, dealership facilities, technology. More important, success will depend on how long it takes before economic growth gives consumers the ability to afford cars.
As dealer Carlos Planas of Tamiami Chrysler says, ``If we think we're just going to go over there and sell cars before reconstructing the economy and helping the people, we are blind. They need basic transportation like buses. Cars would be a luxury.''
Lomberto even admits that the government would be the biggest customer. Would raul be able to raise cash to purchase new Fords for his still-communist government? Or is Lomberto hoping the present Treasury Department requirements will be lifted? Should they be?
Update - And consider this. Despite all the free oil fidel is getting from his friend Hugo in Venezuela, there are gas shortages in Cuba. Mora has the story at Babalu. Where, I'd ask the Perezes, will your new customers get their gasoline.
Update 2 - China announces it has just signed a deal to deliver 630 buses to Cuba.