Leaked Government Document Reveals Venezuela’s Shortages Are Worse Than Previously Expected

empty shelf

A new Venezuelan government document, dated Aug. 14, 2015, was leaked to local media sources and published on Sept. 16, according to a report from the PanAm Post. The document reveals that the current shortage rate for most items is at 70%; it also stated that Venezuelans now have absolutely no access to 15 specific food items, 18 personal care items, and eight cleaning products due to the shortages.

The findings were part of a larger study conducted by Venezuela’s Office of the Vice President, and the leaked document indicates that it’s the 19th study conducted by the government to measure its shortages. This is the first time, however, that the media has ever accessed an official government document regarding the country’s shortages; the last time President Maduro’s office released information on Venezuela’s shortages was back in February 2014.

The latest shortage information was taken directly from observations at 312 different stores located across 19 states.

Of the food items measured, the easiest product to find was pasteurized fruit juice (which has a shortage rate of 43%) while the most scarce products are fruit compotes (with a shortage rate of 92%).

As for personal care items and cleaning products, 96% of the stores surveyed did not have baby diapers in stock and 42% lacked toothpaste. Laundry detergent is only missing 67% of the time from store shelves — and it’s actually one of the easier cleaning products to find — while dishwasher soap is only available in 88% of Venezuelan stores.

Although the food shortages began as a result of falling oil prices, many state that the socialist government’s insistence on federally-regulated supermarkets has only made the situation worse.

On top of it all, rioting and looting has become a common occurrence in many Venezuelan towns and cities simply because people wait outside grocery stores for hours — and all too often, they come back empty-handed.

This past August, for example, The Guardian reported that an 80-year-old woman was trampled to death while waiting outside a supermarket. At the same time, Reuters reported that Venezuelans in need of prescription medications had begun looting the shelves of vet clinics because pharmacy shelves had been empty for weeks.

This has put the entire country of Venezuela in a Catch-22 situation: People need to purchase food, so they spend hours queuing outside of supermarkets. Because it could take all day waiting in line just to purchase a few items, people don’t have the time to go to work. Without jobs, they can’t afford to pay for basic items when rations are tight. Supermarkets then can’t afford to import more items, making whatever expensive items they have left even more scarce and expensive.

While the U.S. is passing legislation requiring American businesses to provide health insurance if they employ at least 50 workers, the Venezuelan government is attempting to cover up the fact that Venezuelans can’t access medical care, or prescription drugs — or even toilet paper — when they need it.

According to the latest reports (dated July 2015), the average Venezuelan family would have to bring in 8.8 minimum-wage salaries in order to cover the cost of essential items. But with the country’s overall shortage rate at 36.2% this past August, many families can’t even find the items to begin with.