Cubans began taking a hard look this week at entrenched customs like food rationing, pilfering on the job, cradle-to-grave subsidies and black market trading in a national debate called by President Raul Castro. Authorities have circulated a ten-point agenda for thousands of open-ended public meetings over the next month to rethink Cuban socialism, focused on economic themes. The discussion guide makes clear that questioning the communist-ruled island's one-party political system, or calling for a restoration of capitalism, are off limits. But it said: "It is important that the meetings are characterized by absolute freedom of criteria, the sincerity of participants and respect for differing opinions." (Reuters, BBC)

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