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Cubans shocked at prices as foreign cars go on sale

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Cubans have reacted with shock after foreign-made cars went on sale for the first time since the 1959 revolution at what some termed "crazy" prices, BBC reports.

The state has a monopoly on new cars and is marking up prices 400% or more.

A Peugeot 508 costing £32,000 ($53,000) in the UK is listed at $262,000. State salaries average about $20 a month.

Freeing up car sales is the latest in a series of reforms in Communist-run Cuba. The requirement for a permit to buy new vehicles has been abolished.

However, only a minority will benefit.

Until new regulations in 2011, people could only sell cars built before the 1959 revolution.

For new cars, people needed a much-sought government permit - a privilege mainly bestowed on senior officials, top athletes and artists.

The permits were often traded on the black market for large sums of cash.

The latest move is part of a series of reforms driven by President Raul Castro aimed at updating the Cuban economic model.

Raul Castro has championed limited free-market reforms since taking the reins of power from his brother Fidel in 2008.

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