Venezuelan government takes over toilet paper factory
What's a socialist government to do? There has been an acute shortage of toilet paper in Venezuela for months so the government does what comes naturally; it takes over the largest factory in the country making TP.
Why? The government of President Nicolas Maduro believes there is a conspiracy to hoard toilet paper.
On Saturday, Vice President Jorge Arreaza announced the "temporary occupation" of the Paper Manufacturing Company's plant in the state of Aragua. The aim, he explained, is to review the "production, marketing and distribution (of) toilet paper."
"The ... People's Defense from the Economy will not allow hoarding or failures in the production and distribution of essential commodities," the vice president said.
By the "People's Defense," Arreaza was referring to a government agency created on September 13 by President Nicolas Maduro to "defeat the economic war that has been declared in the country," according to a report from state-run ATV. This group is charged with looking at inefficiencies across various industries in the nation, including foods and other products, and taking action presumably in the South American nation's best interests.
Toilet paper is very much a part of the war.
The bathroom essential is one of the basic goods and foodstuffs that have been disappearing from store shelves since earlier this year. In Caracas, for instance, long lines are common whenever new rolls come in.
As the amount of TP and other products, such as rice and cooking oil, have lagged, the blame game has picked up.
Businesses and the political opposition say the shortages stem from ill-conceived government policies such as price controls on basic goods and tight restrictions on foreign currency. These moves make it so many producers can't even break even, they say.
But the government has said private companies aren't doing their part, accusing them of hoarding their products in hopes of selling it later at a higher price.
They've also suggested the problem is tied to a broader conspiracy.
"There is no deficiency in production," Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming said in May according to ATV, "but an excessive demand generating purchases by a nervous population because of a media campaign."
So the media is to blame because there's a shortage of toilet paper and they report it? I suppose it's better than the truth - price controls don't work and breed shortages. But that would be asking the government to admit that one of their fundamental economic tenets is wrong.
Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, the people suffer in slience, ending shortages not only in TP but of milk, cooking oil, and other basic foodstuffs. The government is importing 50 million rolls of toilet paper which may ease the shortage temporarily.
But when that's gone, then what? Come up with a conspiracy theory about the US being the culprit no doubt.