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Lada cars flood Cuba's streets

07-02-2013 14:11 BJT

By CCTV correspondent Michael Voss

Cuba is well known for the vintage American cars that prowl its streets. Russia has built a Lada plant in Cuba to sell cars throughout Latin America. And Cubans are enthusiastic.

One of the highlights of a tourist trip to Havana is riding in a vintage American car. But hail a taxi and it’s more likely to be an old Soviet era Lada, which outnumber their US counterparts two to one.

Russia has built a Lada plant in Cuba to sell cars throughout Latin America.
And Cubans are enthusiastic.

Ladas offer little in the way of comfort or style but here they remain an object of desire. Once a month members of the Russian Automobile Club of Cuba gather in Havana to show off their immaculately maintained cars.

The Lada, modeled on a 1960’s Fiat, was the workhorse of the revolution; taxis, police cars even government ministers used them. They were also awarded as gifts to exemplary workers and handed down from father to son.

David Pena, Founder, Russian Automobile Club, said, "The Lada is a very symbolic car for us. These were the cars given to our parents and grandparents for being model workers. These were the cars we could acquire and have access to."

It is only in the last year that Cubans have been allowed to freely buy and sell cars. Soviet-era Lada’s are still sought after and a well maintained model can cost at least 12-thousand dollars, a huge sum for most Cubans.

One of the reasons why Ladas are still so popular is that they are easy to maintain. There are plenty of spare parts around and if not Cubans are experts at making their own.

Ariel Sanchez, Lada Owner, said, "It’s not the same as a modern car where you have to use factory parts. With the Lada, you invent them and the car stays on the road."

Lada’s are one of the most visible reminders of Cuba’s Cold War alliance with the former Soviet Union. It’s a legacy which is likely to last for many more years to come.

 

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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