July 12 - Cuba's ration book, which regulates the sale of food at subsidised prices, marks its 50th anniversary. Tom Dinham reports.
Cuba marks 50 years of rationing on Friday, making it the longest running ration scheme in modern history. Staples on the Caribbean island are subsidised across the board, with citizens receiving a monthly allocation of basic goods. Rationing was first introduced in 1962 as a temporary measure in response to U.S. sanctions. But recently it has become a target of reform-minded Cuban President Raul Castro, who says the scheme is unsustainable. He wants to replace it with targeted subsidies for the poor - a plan that has been met with scepticism by some. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PENSIONER, HILDA FAJARDO, SAYING: "When the government had the chance to do away with the ration book when everything became available and affordable, they didn't. Now that nothing is available and nothing is cheap, how are they going to get rid of it?" According to government insiders, the country spends around one billion dollars annually on the ration.