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Cuba Lifts Restrictions on Imported Cars

FILE - A man walks beside a U.S.-made car parked near the seaside on the outskirts of Havana.
Cuba has announced it will open its automobile market by eliminating a government permit that has restricted car imports for more than a half century.

The Cuban government still controls the sale of imported new and used vehicles, but Thursday's announcement gives Cubans the right to buy them from the state without a government permit.

In the past, Cubans had to get authorization from the Transport Ministry to purchase a new car. The authorization cards took months to obtain, opening up the process to corruption and a black market in which cardholders would sometimes sell them for more than the cost of a car.

The government has acknowledged the permits had generated resentment and dissatisfaction among citizens.

The permit elimination is one of hundreds of reforms put forth by President Raul Castro and approved by the Communist Party in 2011.

The government says new regulations will be published soon and will become law 30 days after they are published. The specifics of the new regulations remain unknown.