CARACAS, VENEZUELA – Venezuelans are used to shortages. But now they are desperately running short of one thing normally taken for granted. The new president is importing 50-million rolls of toilet paper.
2,400 rolls sounds like a lot of toilet paper. But that big a shipment flew off the shelves in just a few hours at this store in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.
“We send each other text messages. I just got one telling me “there’s toilet paper! There’s toilet paper!” And I left the office running to buy some toilet paper because I ran out.” said Venezuelan Consumer Daleydis Ravelo.
Some consumers harshly complain. They have to stand in long lines for hours just to buy a product they used to take for granted.
“This is wrong! This is an oil-rich country where we have no food. The country doesn’t even have basic food products to feed its people.” said Venezuelan Consumer Iris Jiminez.
“Between this Friday and Wednesday of next week we’re expecting a shipment of 20 million rolls of toilet paper which will allow us to satisfy the demand for one week or more.” said Venezuelan Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming.
For years Venezuelans have suffered shortages of basic food products, even staples like cornmeal. But toilet paper is, in a way, the staple that broke the camel’s back. According to the country’s central bank, there’s a shortage of 21 of every 100 consumer products. When supplies are down, demand goes up and so does inflation, which now stands at 12.5 percent.
At another supermarket, 800 cartons of butterm, a dozen containers in each, sold out in a day and a half.
Socialist policies and the nationalization of several industries have discouraged production, according to this economist.
“Fields of production that should be active are not. Some companies no longer produce any products. Venezuela is a country which, for practical and analytical purposes, only produces one thing: oil, which is exported. Everything else has to be imported.” said Venezuelan Economist Jose Guerra
For regular people, the shortage crisis has come knocking on their doors and charged straight into their bathrooms.
By: Rafael Romo