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Cuba reports big increase in food prices

from reuters: Cubans paid almost 20 percent more for food in 2011 as economic reforms, reduced imports and stagnating farm production touched off price inflation at the country's many produce markets. The National Statistics Office reported on its website (ONE.CU) that meat prices rose 8.7 percent while produce prices were up 24.1 percent, for an average of 19.8 percent. The report was bad news for President Raul Castro, who has been loosening the state's grip on farming and retail food services and sales as it seeks to reform its Soviet-style economy by allowing more private initiative and market forces to kick in. The changes are part of more than 300 reforms adopted by the ruling Communist Party last year to "update" the economy, which authorities have warned will entail a difficult transition.

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