While Venzuelans line up for hours every day to garner staples such as soap and toilet paper, the Argentinians have a potentially more explosive problem. As Reuters reports, the country’s20.6 million women couldn’t find their favorite tampons earlier this month – during the height of summer – “for 20 days, we simply couldn’t source any tampons from wholesalers.” The government vowed to keep the supply chain filled with tampons as media talk of a “run on tampons” stoked peoples’ fears that Argentina is rapildy heading down the same socialist utopia track as its neighbor.
Argentines have been complaining for a while now about the country’s product shortages. And, until recently, the government has managed to brush aside such protests, which have centered around Argentina’s import restrictions.
Well until, that is, the country’s 20.6 million women couldn’t find their favorite tampons earlier this month – during the height of summer.
“For 20 days, we simply couldn’t source any tampons from wholesalers,” said Ariel, a 29-year old pharmacy owner.
To be sure, Argentina’s tampon squeeze is a far cry from shortages plaguing Venezuela and Cuba. But it has managed to launch a debate about the country’s tight control of imports and foreign currency.(Imports were down 11 percent during the first 11 months of 2014, the latest period for which data is available.)
The government vowed to keep the supply chain filled with tampons – and apparently has had some success at that.
But, at the same time, it has remained defiant. Officials of Latin America’s third largest economy blamed logistical problems, among other things, for the shortages and made it clear there will be no policy changes.
Of course, as Bloomberg reports, the Argentine government blamed the media (as opposed to its drastic restrictions of selling foreign currency)…
A lack of tampons in Argentina over the past few weeks is due to a surge in demand caused by irresponsible media reports, Commerce Secretary Augusto Costa said, denying that import controls were to blame.
“There was a sort of tampons run,” Costa said in a Radio Del Plata interview late yesterday. “It was induced by media operations.”
The press stoked a “run on tampons” as part of “campaign to delegitimize the government’s system for managing foreign commerce,”
But it’s not the first time…
Shortages are just another in a long list frustrations felt by Argentines. Chief among them: inflation that is, according to some estimates, soaring at just under a 40% annual rate. It is so bad that many Argentines are calling for a change in leadership in next October’s elections.
Shut out of global credit markets since its record 2002 bond default of $100 billion, Argentina restricted imports three years ago to protect its shrinking dollar horde.Many retailers complain those restrictions have been tightened since another debt default in July.
The government has no long-term strategy for imports … It just deals with each issue as and when it arises,” said Miguel Ponce, spokesman for the Chamber of Importers.
The government’s response to such criticism? It believes opponents, including the media, are using the tampon supply as a weapon in the debate over trade policy.
On the bright side, the tampon shortage has provided an opportunity for a good, though not exactly tasteful, joke or two on Twitter (Sample: “If I take back from Costa Rica tampons for all the women asking me for some, they will stop me at Ezeiza (airport) for being a tampon trafficker”)
Still, the lack of supplies is no joke for merchants and consumers alike.