Cuba ends rations of soap, toothpaste

HAVANA — The cost of cleanliness will rise in Cuba after its cash-strapped, communist government announced Wednesday that soap, toothpaste and detergent will be slashed from monthly ration books.

Cuba's official Gazette said that effective Jan. 1, "personal cleanliness products" will join a growing list of products cut from the ration books that islanders have come to rely on for a small but steady supply of basic goods.

The list of products available with the ration books has shrunk in recent months as the government trimmed items deemed nonessential. Cigarettes, salt, peas and potatoes have been cut. Sugar, beans, meat, rice, eggs, bread and other products remain.

"It's already hard to make ends meet as it is and this is only going to make it harder," said Elias Conde, a 38-year-old father of two who works in a cafeteria.

Clashes in southern Colombia kill drug lord

BOGOTA, Colombia — A brutal drug lord with a $2.5 million bounty on his head and reputed ties to right-wing militias died during clashes with security forces in southern Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Wednesday.

Pedro Oliverio Guerrero led the so-called Popular Revolutionary Anti-Terrorist Army of Colombia that protected coca crops and drug trafficking routes in eastern Colombia, according to U.S. officials.

Santos said Guerrero's body was found near Puerto Alvira in Meta province, about 200 miles southeast of the capital, Bogota. Authorities found with him two pistols and a knife which he purportedly used to slash the throats of his victims.