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Chaos in Venezuela as Shops Ordered to Cut Prices

Chaos in Venezuela as Shops Ordered to Cut PricesChaos in Venezuela as Shops Ordered to Cut Prices

Mobs gathered outside some Caracas supermarkets on Saturday after the government ordered shops to slash prices, creating chaos as desperate Venezuelans leapt at the chance to buy cheaper food as the country’s worsening economy causes severe shortages.

 The chaotic administration of President Nicolas Maduro ordered more than 200 supermarkets to cut prices back to last month’s levels—a tall order in a country where many prices change daily due to the world’s fastest inflation rate, Mercopress reported.

News of the discounts spread like wildfire, leading hundreds to mass in front of stores before daybreak. When one major supermarket in wealthier eastern Caracas did not open for hours, people began pounding on the storefront. “We’re hungry! We want food!” screamed the crowd, which included babies, pensioners and children with disabilities.

Critics say Maduro is playing with fire in the oil-rich nation, where millions are unable to eat three square meals a day and malnutrition is on the rise, saying his policy will dissuade supermarkets from stocking their shelves and could trigger looting.

Maduro who was narrowly elected to replace the late Hugo Chavez in 2013, counters that he is a victim of a US-led “economic war” in which businesses hoard food and stoke prices to destabilize his government.

The state agency in charge of ensuring “fair prices” ordered some 214 supermarkets owned by 26 chains to drop their prices, pro-government newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported on Saturday.

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