Venezuela Toilet Paper Shortage: Country Now Importing 50M Rolls; How Did They Run Out?

VENEZUELA TOILET PAPER SHORTAGE
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The citizens of Venezuela have run out a very basic necessity: Toilet paper.

The government has reportedly stated that it will be importing 50 million rolls to fix the Venezuela toilet paper shortage and an additional 760 tons of toilet paper. After milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal have ran short, this latest development did not sit well with Venezuelans who are looking for toilet paper.

"This is the last straw," said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for toilet paper, to The Guardian. "I'm 71 years old and this is the first time I've seen this."

The Associated Press reports visiting a supermarket that was out of toilet paper and another that received a batch, but sold out once word spread.

"I've been looking for it for two weeks," said Cristina Ramos. "I was told that they had some here and now I'm in line."

If you're wondering why the country ran out of toilet paper, then consider this: Economists predict the shortage roots from the government's attempt control prices. While the government does this to make sure the poor can afford the basic necessities, it backfires as well.

"State-controlled prices - prices that are set below market-clearing price - always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union," said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University, to The Guardian.

That said, BBC reports that the government controlled prices have made a difference since the FAO, more than 15% of Venezuelands were undernourished in 1999, but currently less than 5% fit that category. Venezuela's scarcity index rose to 21 percent last month, a record high since Venezuela's Central bank began tracking in 2009.

The Venezuelan government; however, has blamed political opponents for the shortage. President Nicolás Maduro, who was chosen by a dying Hugo Chávez to lead the country, claims that anti-government forces and the private sector are causing the shortage to destabilize the country.

Some, such as commerce minister Alejandro Fleming, believe the shortage was induced by the media. According to Fleming, all the media coverage of a shortage has led to an excessive demand. He states that the country average for toilet paper consumption was 125 million, but the current demand is 40 million per month.

"There is no deficiency in production, but an excessive demand generating purchases by a nervous population because of a media campaign that has been created to undermine the country," Fleming was quoted saying by state news agency AVN. "We are going to saturate the market so that our people will calm down and understand that they should not let themselves be manipulated by the media that says there are shortages."

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Susmita Baral

Susmita Baral joined Latin Times in April 2013. Her work has been published in VICE, Weight Watchers Magazine, Unique Homes Magazine, US Airways Magazine, Vista Magazine, Daily Glow and Kaplan. She holds a B.A. Psychology from Rutgers University. A self-proclaimed foodie, Susmita is a freelance list maker, part-time Shaq devotee, and a full-time eyeliner junkie who believes mac and cheese is a birthright.