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Venezuelan Govt Seizes 4 Million Toys From Distributor Before Christmas

Nicolas Maduro
Nicolas Maduro / AP
• December 13, 2016 2:01 pm

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Venezuelan government officials seized roughly 4 million toys from a distributor last week over allegations that the company was trying to sell the items at inflated rates.

The Venezuelan fair pricing authority was met with criticism over the seizure, which will make it impossible for Venezuelans to purchase the toys from the distributor the holiday season.

William Contreras, head of the pricing agency, pushed back on critics labeling the government the "Grinch that stole Christmas," according to CNN. Contreras said that leaders at Kreisel-Venezuela, the toy distributor, "don't care about our children's right to have a merry Christmas."

"They say we're stealing the toys from this company, but the company committed fraud against our country," Contreras told journalists.

The Venezuelan government revealed over the weekend that 3.821 million toys had been seized from Kreisel warehouses and that the items will instead be offered to poor families at below-market prices. Venezuelan authorities said that the toy-seizing operation began on Thursday.

"And now? Nicolas Maduro is the modern grinch?" a woman wrote on Twitter, according to an English translation of Spanish.

Under the socialist government of Venezuela, toys must be sold at rates approved by the government.

President Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez's successor, launched a plan called "Operation Merry Christmas" in November 2014 to lower the cost of toys and other items for shoppers during the holiday season, at a time when his poll numbers and Venezuela's economy were sinking.

Venezuela is currently in economic crisis. Inflation rose nearly 500 percent in 2016 and could increase by over 1600 percent in 2017, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund released earlier this year.

Published under: Venezuela