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Cuba reforms bring shrugs and expectations

President Raul Castro's decision to rescind prohibitions against Cubans owning high-tech and energy-consuming appliances has sparked expectations here, and abroad, that more fundamental change is on the horizon aimed at freeing Cubans from the shackles of a planned economy that imposes on most a daily struggle for subsistence, the Los Angeles Times reports from Havana

But for many workers, a $300 microwave represents a year and a half's income and is another reminder that those without U.S. currency are second-class citizens here. About one-third of Cuban households benefit from monthly remittances from relatives abroad, and growing numbers get dollars from tourist tips or joint-venture employment, but state employees are no more likely to buy the newly available baubles than when the items were forbidden.

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