Out of paper, Venezuela's oldest newspaper halts circulation

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s oldest newspaper will stop publishing next week because it cannot find printing paper, the latest victim of a shifting media landscape triggered by shortages.

“As of Monday the 15th, and for a time we anxiously hope will be as short as possible, the mouthpiece of the people of Lara state will cease to accompany their morning coffee,” regional daily El Impulso’s editorial board wrote on Wednesday.

“The obstacles we’ve faced to get paper, which we’re running out of, represent just one link in a difficult chain of adversities inherent to the country’s serious economic situation,” said the 110-year old privately owned paper.

Lack of U.S. dollars caused by strict currency controls, import delays and red tape are hitting businesses across the country.

Some small regional Venezuelan publications have had to fold, while mainstream dailies have cut back on pages.

Adding to the changing press landscape, three major media groups have since last year been sold in largely undisclosed deals. [ID:nL2N0PG0FP]

Opposition critics say the socialist government’s policies are tantamount to slowly muzzling the press.

Government sympathizers argue that private media have historically sided with the opposition, pointing out that they often virulently attacked late socialist president Hugo Chavez, and backed a brief coup against him in 2002.

Writing by Alexandra Ulmer. Editing by Andre Grenon