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Automotive Sector

The Russian Cars of Cuba

russian cars, cars in Cuba, volga
A Russian car in Cuba. Here, the very elegant GAZ Volga sedan logo emblem.

One might think that classic 1950s American cars such as the Ford and the Chevy are the only vehicles on the roads of Cuba.  True, these cars have become a symbol of the Island today.  But if one takes a closer look, there are other cars and trucks sharing the road.  That small, boxy, little yellow taxi that just passed you was a Lada, one of the most popular brands of Russian cars in Cuba. The history of the Russian automobile industry in Cuba stretches back to the ’50s.  Foreign car imports from the United States dried up after 1961 with the imposition of the American embargo.  However, the Soviets never stopped exporting cars to the Island.  Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, sealed the deal when he gave Fidel Castro the classic ZIL-111, convertible limousine as a gift. The car came to be known as the “Commandante’s car.” And, when the Soviets left Cuba in 1991, the cars remained. It is because of this history that Cubans have a strong knowledge and familiarity with the Russian brand. Some Russian cars were manufactured on the Island. Spare parts for these cars are easier to find and it’s a safe bet that many…

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