Venezuela's Newspapers Face Big Problem: No Paper

Some smell government conspiracy
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2013 5:07 PM CDT
Venezuela's Newspapers Face Big Problem: No Paper
A front page of Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela hasn't just run out of toilet paper—it's run out of other kinds of paper too, and that's a big problem for the country's newspaper industry. Five papers have already shut down, and more than half of the country's local papers will have to within the next three weeks if they can't get any more newsprint, reports USA Today. "We're going to see a blackout of the local press," says the editor of a newspaper in El Tigre, who says he has about 30 days of paper left.

The problem isn't that Venezuela is broke, per se—the country is rich in oil and resources—nor are the papers, but currency controls make it hard for the mastheads to obtain the US dollars needed to import more stock. To get those greenbacks, they have to get a specific document from the government saying the paper isn't available locally. But the government is refusing to give many editors that documentation, and now some are smelling a conspiracy. "The government itself runs lots of newspapers; they all have paper," says the leader of the Regional Press Organization. "It's political," agrees the president of the National College of Journalists. "It's a means of silencing the political opposition. It's very sad." (More newsprint stories.)

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