Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela's milk shortage closes famous ice-cream shop

Inside shot of Coromoto ice-cream store, Merida, 1 November 2010 (from its Facebook page) Image copyright Coromoto

A Venezuelan ice-cream shop, popular with tourists for its record-breaking range of flavours, has temporarily closed because of a shortage of milk.

Coromoto, in the city of Merida in the Venezuelan Andes, is the latest to fall victim to the country's economic woes.

The shop is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for having 863 different exotic-tasting ice creams.

Venezuela has been hit by acute shortages of certain staples, such as milk and toilet paper, in recent years.

The economic slowdown, high rates of inflation and strict controls on foreign exchange are all seen as contributing factors that have led to the crisis.

"We are closed during the season due to shortage of milk," the ice-cream store announced (in Spanish) on its Facebook page.

Eukaris Castillo, one of the employees, told BBC Mundo that the decision was made after customers complained that the flavours on offer were not as many as advertised.

Manuel da Silva, the shop's owner, decided it was best to close the parlour during the holiday season, because he does not want the reputation of his store to be affected, Ms Castillo said.

She said that it was hard to find milk in ordinary shops and the price on the black market had increased six-fold in recent months, making it unprofitable for Coromoto to offer all its usual flavours.

Coromoto, which offers ice-cream flavours ranging from beer to beans, hopes to re-open in mid-January.

President Nicolas Maduro has seen his popularity ratings fall over the shortages, which he blames on political opponents waging an "economic war" against him.

The opposition, however, accuse the socialist government of Mr Maduro and that of his predecessor in office, Hugo Chavez, of mismanaging the economy for the past 15 years they have been in office.

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