18 December 2016

Venezuelan Authorities Raided Toy Warehouse

Venezuelan Authorities
Poor Venezuelan kids will have something to look up to this coming Christmas after the Venezuela's socialist government has seized nearly 4 million toys from a private company and says it intends to hand them out as gifts to the unfortunate children this holiday season.

The country's fair pricing authority seized the toys from three warehouses run by Kreisel, Venezuela's largest toy distributor last 9 December. Two company executives were detained on suspicion of promoting price speculation.

Agency director William Contreras alleged that Kreisel underreported its inventory in order to sell some toys at higher prices. Contreras said the seizure would teach companies "that you can't play with the rights of Venezuelans."

In addition to accusing the company of creating scarcity to boost prices, the government says Kreisel used dollars that it acquired at a special government exchange rage to buy the products between 2008 and 2014 — and that stores have recently complained that the distributor won't fill their orders.

"The government claims that businessmen and traders hoard goods for long periods to speculate on prices," reports the Local Committees of Supply and Production (CLAP), the organization that will handle the redistribution of the toys.

"Venezuela suffers the highest inflation in the world, estimated at 475 percent for 2016 by the IMF, and the currency lost 75 percent of its value against the so-called "black dollar" since last September."

Kreisel hasn't issued a public statement about the seizure, but the company seems to disagree strongly with the government's action. On its Twitter feed, Kreisel retweeted more than 20 messages of support and solidarity from people and organizations, including notes that accuse the government of abusing its powers.

Venezuela has been wracked by a deep economic crisis accompanied by shortages of goods ranging from food staples to medicine. In recent days President Nicolas Maduro ordered stores to lower their prices between 30 and 50 percent.