CARACAS — It might be funny if it weren't true — which Venezuelan reporter Nitu Pérez Osuna didn't think it was before witnessing it with her own eyes: people lining up along a Caracas street to get a "shot" or "lick" of deodorant.
"I'd seen something similar two years ago on Twitter and thought it was a hoax," Pérez told Blu Radio.
Walking through the city center, the journalist spotted a queue of about 40 people — "a relatively short line," given supply conditions in Venezuela — and asked people what they were waiting for. "A lick of deodorant on the armpit," she was told, for 20 bolivars (about 1.80 euros).
Nitu Pérez Osuna and a sign advertising for deodorant in Caracas — Source: Revista Semana via Twitter
The reporter hesitated to take a photo, but as she stealthily pulled out her smartphone, some of the people queuing up warned her, saying she risked being robbed. "Don't even think about it," one of them said.
Dabs of deodorant are one of a number of services being offered on the street as a result of Venezuela's deep economic crisis, which has resulted in serious shortages of basic supplies. Other makeshift dispensaries offer things like dentistry services — with people sharing the same toothbrushes all day long — shaves and manicures, all on the street. It is something that has "become normal, and nobody is surprised," said Pérez.