Venezuela's ongoing economic crisis has hit the Church in a unique way: the production of Hosts fell 60 percent during the past month, affecting three states in the South American country. Giovanni Luisio Mass, prior of the Order of Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Jerusalem, explained to local media that the shortage of unleavened wheat flour needed to make Hosts has been acute for a month now. According to Caracol TV, the monthly production of Hosts has dropped from 80,000 to 30,000. This drop, Mass indicated, has affected every parish in three Venezuelan states. He added that they can only send 1,500 Hosts to the parishes in the north of the country, because there is no longer enough flour to make the 8,000 they have always needed. Several parishes, along with the local communities, have organized to search for the wheat flour needed for the Hosts. Venezuela is dealing with shortages including food, toilet paper, medicines, auto parts, chocolate, oil, and clothes irons. According to the Central Bank of Venezuela, food prices went up 92 percent last year, and during the last ten years inflation has risen 1,250 percent. According to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, since 2003 the Venezuelan government has imposed price controls on 165 products, including cooking oil, soap, milk, flour, cereals, toilet paper , cleaning products, detergent, diapers, toothpaste, and sugar. The local currency has plummeted in value. As a result, price-controlled commodities are affordable, but disappear from shelves in no time, often to be resold on the black market at market rates. And the good that are not price-controlled, are unafforable because of the devalued currency. The government has also instituted policies to control sales, such as distributing tickets for the purpose of taking turns at the supermarkets, and placing digital fingerprint readers in the stores to prevent people from exceeding the allotted amount of products they could buy. According to the BBC, every day Venezuelans have to form long lines at the supermarkets, but often they do not find the products they need and have to get in another line. On average, a Venezuelan spends five hours a week shopping. The BBC quoted the Venezuelan polling company Datanálisis that said that in 80 percent of the supermarkets there is a shortage of basic goods. Consequently the black market, where the price is four times higher, has grown, and 65 percent of the people in lines outside the supermarkets are people who will resell what they buy.
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