Toilet Paper Shortage Gives Cuba a Pain in the . . .

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2009 4:36 PM CDT
A man reads a copy of Juventud Rebelde newspaper in Havana.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Cuba is battling a toilet paper shortage, the Miami Herald reports. The country says the global financial crisis and recent hurricanes have forced it to shutter factories and cut down on electricity usage. The result: The cost of a four-pack of TP in Havana is the equivalent of 2 days' wages for the average worker. The government doesn't subsidize toilet paper as it does other staples, so needy citizens resort to using pages of the "soft paper" that makes up Chinese and North Korean magazines.

Men line up at dawn to snap up copies of the state newspaper, Granma, which consists of less comfortable material than the imports. Today’s or yesterday’s makes no difference: “They all have the same use,” one says. The government says “an important importation of toilet paper” is on the way, but Western watchers are still disgusted. “Now, capitalism has its problems, as we have all seen,” Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria says. “But at least we're not running out of toilet paper.”