Argentina: What the tampon rumpus says about the troubled country

Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:33pm EST
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By Sarah Marsh

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - 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.

PRESS PROBLEM   Continued...

A woman takes tampon boxes out of a supermarket shelf in Buenos Aires January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci