VIVA LA APPLIANCES: Cuba authorized individual imports of appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and microwave ovens, lifting a ban imposed in 2005 during a wave of energy shortages and blackouts.

FUTURE AND PAST: Blackouts are much rarer today, thanks in part to a steady flow of oil on preferential terms from close ally Venezuela.

BUY LOCAL, FIRST: In 2011, Cuba resumed sales of domestic appliances in response to demand and to support private small businesses that have been launched under current President Raul Castro's economic reforms.