Caracas shopkeeper Wilmer Ruiz realized last week that he couldn't call his family in Cuba or a friend who immigrated to Ecuador. Both countries have been staunch allies of Venezuela's 16-year socialist revolution.
"We're just falling behind the rest of the world in every way," Ruiz said.
Internet calling services like Skype go only so far toward resolving the issue. Many people don't have easy access to WiFi, so they have to rely on cellphone data packages that can be prohibitively expensive. And pay-as-you-go services that allow for cheap calls to cellphones over the Internet require a foreign credit card, which most Venezuelans don't have.
In Ruiz's case, his friend in Ecuador can't afford a full data plan and his Cuban family has no Internet access.
Phone service was spotty in Venezuela even in better days. Though when a call does go through, international rates are capped at basement prices, with a four-hour call to Hong Kong costing less than 50 cents at the black market exchange rate.
The phones are just the latest things to go as currency rationing cuts Venezuela off from global trade.
Foreign airlines have abandoned the country over the past year because of Venezuela's limits on repatriating profits. Last year, the state-run postal service indefinitely suspended international mail deliveries. In the spring, the government slashed the amount of local currency citizens are allowed to convert into dollars when they travel abroad to as little as $300, essentially blocking vacations for anyone who can't afford to buy currency on the black market.
Decade-old regulations require companies and individuals to get government approval for converting local bolivars into dollars. And with the administration running low on dollars itself amid a general economic collapse, officials have been increasingly reluctant to part with any foreign currency.
Digitel has not received any dollars since 2014, company president Oswaldo Cisneros told congress in June. Venezuela's state-owned provider, CANTV, took the rare step this year of acknowledging in its annual report that the lack of access to dollars has limited its growth.
CANTV, which industry experts say provides about 40 percent of the country's international calling service, did not return requests for comment on whether it is cutting destinations. Federation of Telecommunication Workers leader Evencio Chacon, who represents the company's employees, said international service has been scaled back.