Cardboard Craigslist

Near el Prado, a main boulevard in Havana, exists the closest thing Cuba has to Craigslist. People gather there every day in person to sell homes, goods, services, arrange transportation, etc. From our observations, listings occur in 3 different ways:

  1. Face-to-face discussion and/or writing a sign and hanging it on your person.
The most common sales method was to meander through the crowd, hawking one’s wares either vocally or by attaching a sign to one’s shirt. This included transportation, housing, and services. Physical goods were sold about 1 block over in an open-air market on the same street. Interestingly, people seemed to conform to this expectation and there was not much cross-over between the housing/services and goods markets.


2. Signs attached to a tree or rock.

This is an ad for someone selling a home. Paraphrasing, it says that this person is selling a ground floor apartment in the Casco historical center in Old Havana for $13,000. They’re looking to buy a place in Alamar. Until very recently, it was impossible for someone in Cuba to buy a home with money. The only way that a family could move was to trade homes with someone else. Understandably, this limited movement throughout the country. People were pleased to have this barrier removed, although most would have a difficult time coming up with any significant amount of money in order to purchase property.


3. Take out a classified ad on a poster board.

It is possible to purchase space on this poster board which is manned by a human being during business hours on the open air Prado. I can’t imagine how much Cuba would benefit from internet and Craigslist.