The 86 newspapers that are part of the Regional Chamber of Venezuelan newspapers declared an “emergency” after discovering that the country has run out of printing paper, newspaper La Nación reported.
According to the Chamber, state-owned editorial group Alfredo Maneiro (CEAM) reported that paper levels were at a dangerous low.
CEAM is the only entity authorized by the Government to provide paper for the printing of about 90 newspapers currently in circulation across the country, according to Venezuela’s El Tiempo.
“The situation is very worrying and critical, since around 90 newspapers are at risk across the country, and with them is the provision of information for people as well as thousands of jobs,” Joselin Ramirez, president of the Chamber, said.
Ramirez and the heads of other newspapers met with the Communication and Information minister, Luis José Marcano, in order to try to resolve current paper supply issues, according to the website Última Hora.
The Minister said that he has met with the President of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) to ensure that paper import processes are duly met.
Ramirez said he hopes to meet with the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, to find solutions to the long running problem.
A tweet from June 2015 shows a sign reading “80 Venezuelan newspapers threatened due to lack of paper.”
— Teresa Ciociano (@CiociTere) June 19, 2015
The shortage of printing paper and other raw materials is not just an economic problem, but also one that places the government in hot water over censorship claims, in addition to damaging the freedom of expression and information relayed to Venezuelans.
Problems arose in 2003, when the exchange control system was established in the country, restricting the “free movement of foreign currencies”.
The system granted exclusivity “in the administration and adjudication” of currencies, under supervision from the Currency Administration Commission (CADIVI).
Subsequently, in January 2014, the CADIVI merged with the National Foreign Trade Center.
Venezuela’s print media crisis began in 2012, when printing paper and other supplies – which are not produced in Venezuela – were added to the list of non-priority products, forcing the media to ask for the approval of foreign currency for their importation.
Since then, attaining these raw materials became increasingly difficult to the point that the number of newspapers have stopped running temporarily or permanently, or have been forced to reduce their number of pages and circulation.
The most recent case was that of newspaper Periódico de Occidente in the city of Guanare in the country’s Portuguesa state, which stopped circulating “because of the supplies crisis and failure to allocate of foreign currency for the purchase of inks and printing plates,” the NGO Public Space reported on January 28.
According to the Annual Report of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) “at least ten regional newspapers have stopped running and another 31 had to reduce their page amount” during 2014 alone.