Cuba Marks 50 Years of Food Ration Book

Created: 2013-07-13 06:39 EST

Category: World > North America

The longest standing food ration in modern history marks 50 years on Friday, perhaps its last before being eliminated as part of market-oriented reforms orchestrated by Cuban President Raul Castro.

The law establishing the ration, known as the "libreta", was passed in 1962, with hundreds of ration stores finally opening on July 12, 1963.
Castro, who replaced his ailing brother Fidel in 2008, has chided the ration ever since as "paternalistic" and "irrational and unsustainable". 
Eliminating the ration, first introduced as a temporary measure as U.S. sanctions weighed in, has proved perhaps the most controversial measure Castro has proposed.
He has advocated replacing across-the-board subsidies of goods and utilities with targeted welfare.
Seventy-three year old Hilda Fajardo says she doesn’t think Castro will do away with the rations.
[Hilda Fajardo, Pensioner]: 
"When the socialist government had the chance to do away with the ration book, when all food was available and everything was cheap, they didn't. Now that nothing is available and it's not cheap, how are they going to get rid of it?" 
Some feel there must be a better way to feed people.
[Pedro Ruiz, Night Watchman]:
"I think it's time for this ration book to be eliminated in one way or another, to compare prices to see how to get rid of these products. There are about four or five in the book."
According to government insiders, the country spends around one billion US dollars annually on the ration, subsidizing eighty-eight percent of the cost.