Carlos Garcia Rawlins A boy hands a packet of toilet paper that is made in Colombia to a customer at a stall that sells staple items and food at a market in La Fria, Venezuela, June 2, 2016. 
Carlos Garcia Rawlins Plastic bags filled with Venezuelan bolivar notes are placed on a currency trader’s table on a street in Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins Customers wait to be served at a store that sells food and staple items in Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016. 
Carlos Garcia Rawlins A man uses a machine to count Venezuelan bolivar notes at a store in Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins A man carries stacks of Venezuelan bolivar notes as he crosses to Boca del Grita in Venezuela, across the border from Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins A man weighs milk powder that is made in Colombia before selling it to his customers at a market in La Fria, Venezuela, June 2, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins A Venezuelan man pushes tires down the street after buying them in Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016. 
Carlos Garcia Rawlins A woman reaches for a package of diapers at a store in Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016. 
Carlos Garcia Rawlins People carry goods past Venezuelan soldiers as they disembark from a boat at Boca del Grita in Venezuela after crossing the border from Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins Carlos Cure holds packets of corn flour made in Colombia as he poses for a picture at a market in La Fria, Venezuela, June 2, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins Men carry a bag filled with staple items in front of a store in Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016. 
Carlos Garcia Rawlins Staple items and hygiene products, some made in Colombia, are seen at a road-side stall in Boca del Grita, Venezuela, June 3, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins People arrive by canoe at Boca del Grita in Venezuela after crossing the border from the town of Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins People waiting to enter Boca del Grita in Venezuela stand on the Colombian side of a river that marks the border between the two countries, Puerto Santander, Colombia, June 3, 2016.

The Venezuelan Smuggle to Survive

The economic crisis in Venezuela has reached farcical proportions. Here, it is not cash but toilet paper that is king. A recession plus ever soaring inflation has triggered a toilet paper shortage, making a one-ply swatch more valuable than a bolivar note. (Buying toilet paper in bulk on the black market can even land citizens in jail.) On top of that, at $150 a carton, eggs now cost a thousand times more than a gallon of oil, which is only a few U.S. cents because of government price controls. This has turned doctors, dentists, and teachers into smugglers. With their salaries depreciating by the day, Venezuelans can sell price-controlled goods to neighboring Colombia for dramatic profits and earn in the more stable peso. At 275 percent inflation, Venezuela has yet to surpass the record-breaking rate of 438 percent during the Latin American debt crisis of the '80s and '90s. But there is still time, of course, with economists predicting inflation to hit 500 percent in Venezuela by the end of this year.

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