Facing shortages, Venezuela takes over toilet paper factory
September 22, 2013 -- Updated 0205 GMT (1005 HKT)
File photo of consumers buying rationed goods during the inauguration of the state-owned Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas in June.
- Venezuela occupies Paper Manufacturing Company's plant in Aragua, vice president says
- VP: Nation won't "allow hoarding or failures in the production and distribution" of essentials
- Government accuses companies of hoarding, blames media for fanning fears
- Private firms says ill-conceived price control, currency policies have stifled production
(CNN) -- When you're running low on toilet paper and getting desperate, what do you do?
If you're the Venezuelan government, you take over a toilet paper factory.
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."
At that time, Fleming announced the country would import 50 million rolls of toilet paper to meet demand. Other hygiene products, such as toothpaste and soap, may be similarly brought in bulk for the same reason, the minister said.
Scissors-wielding thieves attack women in Venezuela
CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1527 GMT (2327 HKT)
The U.S. huffing over Ukraine jars with many after recent U.S.-led interventions, writes Simon Tisdall.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is unapologetic about his government's response to opposition protesters.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
He's 12 years old and going blind -- so his parents are taking him on a trip to fill his world with beautiful images.
Track star Oscar Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Follow live updates of South Africa's trial of the century.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
To celebrate International Women's Day, CNN's Leading Women is inviting you to a Tweetchat.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Women journalists in the testosterone-fueled world of sports are still the target of abuse.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
Photographer Zack Seckler's series presents Botswana from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique view of the savannah.
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 0218 GMT (1018 HKT)
Concorde is a thing of the past, but a number of companies are racing to release the first supersonic business jet.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 2059 GMT (0459 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
From U.S. President Obama's phone call to Russian President Putin, to a python swallowing a crocodile, browse photos from last week.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 0543 GMT (1343 HKT)
Did you know that the idea to mark road surfaces reportedly came from watching a milk truck drip milk on the road?
The undersea cables wiring the Earth: this is what the Internet actually looks like.
Today's five most popular stories