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No More Soap, Toothpaste On Cuban Ration Cards

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HAVANA (CBS4) — Brushing teeth and washing up just became a luxury in Cuba, thanks to a government ruling published in December that soap, toothpaste and liquid detergents are being removed from ration cards.

CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reported that the slashed subsidies comes at a time when some product prices are expected to soar as much as 12-fold.

That is a burden that Havana dissident Darsi Ferrer called “draconian for a people already at the limit of their survival.”

The Raúl Castro government is reacting to the current economic crisis and already had cut staples such as potatoes and peas, among other items.

Cuban Interior Commerce Minister Jacinto Angulo Pardo signed the Dec. 17 ruling removing the items from the ration card. It was published in the Official Gazette and the blog Penultimos Dias, according to The Herald.

Price increases such as Aliquid detergent is rising from 3.75 Cuban pesos to 25, and a roughly 4.2-ounce tube of toothpaste that now sells for 65 cents will rise to eight pesos. Bathroom and laundry soap will rise from 25 cents and 40 cents to four and five pesos, depending on size.

Cubans were first introduced to the ration card system in the early 60s and were intended to be temporary. Fidel Castro described it as a way to ensure all Cubans had equal access to goods.

But, according to The Herald, Cubans complain these goods barely last 10 days. Most, though, will acknowledge that the ration book helps them make ends meet in a country where the average monthly salary stands at 429 pesos — or about $20.

Most Cubans, already facing a slew of price hikes as the government cuts other subsidies, “are not going to be able to buy those soaps,” Ferrer told the paper.

Ferrer has studied the impact of the vanishing state subsidies over the past year.

(© MMX CBS Television Stations. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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