Ration Book in Cuba

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The ration system in Cuba refers to a food distribution system known as the Libreta. Cubans are entitled to a basic ration of groceries (rice, beans, coffee...)which they can buy at their local bodega (shop) at subsidized prices.

The libreta ration booklet was introduced in 1962 by Che Guevara at that time Minister of Economy. The Cuban libreta book indicates the rations each family is allowed to buy depending on the age and gender of the family members. Milk can only be bought for children below the age of seven year and pregnant women.

The libreta booklet is distributed each year by the government and reflects the exact composition of the Cuban family.

There are frequent shortages and the distribution is often delayed. Products like soap, eggs, thootpaste, coffee are often not available. The government blames the shortages on the economic embargo by the United States. Cuba is importing huge quantities of food from, China, Vietnam, Thailand and the USA.

End of the Libreta Book?

President Raul Castro declares that it is the intention of the government to ultimately eliminate the libreta. Some products like potatoes, peas and cigarettes are already removed from the ration forcing Cubans to buy additional food on the free market at a much higher price.

There is a huge risk in this move for a creating a dual society, some Cubans have access to foreign money sources, they work in the tourist industry or receive money sent by family or friends from abroad and can afford to pay higher prices, but almost half the population especially eldery retired Cubans or single mothers with children can't spend more on food.

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