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    Cuba marks 50 years of ‘libreta’ ration books but the end is nigh
    12/07 15:06 CET

    Food rationing in Cuba is marking its 50th anniversary but the world’s
    longest running system of its kind is on its way out as part of
    government reforms.

    The “libreta” as it is known began operating in July 1963 as a temporary
    measure to counter US sanctions.

    The ration books guarantee basic supplies to everyone, in theory. In
    practice there are shortages, Cubans are forced to shop elsewhere and
    the system is very costly for the state: 25 billion pesos a year, the
    equivalent of around three quarters of a billion euros.

    The rations cover the likes of rice, bread and cooking oil – as well as
    small quantities of eggs, beans, and chicken or fish. But other items
    such as potatoes, soap and toothpaste have been moved to regular
    state-run markets.

    The system was introduced under Fidel Castro, but his brother and
    successor President Raul Castro wants to do away with the ration books.

    Some find the move illogical. Even now the system makes some nostalgic
    for Cuba’s revolution and its charismatic former leader.

    “I like Fidel. I am very fond of Fidel. It’s all good because if we
    didn’t have a ration book some would eat and others wouldn’t, isn’t that
    so? Some say they are going to get rid of it but I don’t believe that,”
    said pensioner Berena Rodriguez.

    “They had the chance to do away with it (rationing) when everything was
    available and cheap, but they didn’t. Now that nothing is available or
    cheap, how are they going to get rid of it?” wondered another pensioner
    in Havana, Hilda Fajardo.

    There is a Cuban saying that nobody can live on ration books, yet many
    cannot live without them. There are fears that abolition will hit the
    poorest.

    President Castro and Congress want to introduce targeted welfare
    instead, to support poorer Cubans.

    Source: “Cuba marks 50 years of ‘libreta’ ration books but the end is
    nigh | euronews, world news” –
    http://www.euronews.com/2013/07/12/cuba-marks-50-years-of-libreta-ration-books-but-the-end-is-nigh/

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