In socialist Venezuela, little girls are having an early Christmas.
President Nicolas Maduro has ordered department stores to sell Barbie dolls at the lowest possible prices throughout the holiday season, Associated Press reports.
The edict has sparked a Barbie bonanza across Caracas, with happy girls and their parents coming out of toy shops with armfuls of the plastic fashion doll.
Maduro wants to make Barbie, which for many leftists has become a symbol of crass American capitalist consumerism, a highlight of his “Operation Merry Christmas”, a campaign to prevent speculators from ruining the holidays, according to the news agency.
As a result, Barbie is now selling for as little as US$2.50 in the capital city, while the cheapest doll of its kind in the United States sells for US$10.
Maduro, a former bus driver who succeeded Hugo Chavez as the country’s leader in 2013, has imposed strict price controls on basic consumer items such as milk and soap, and threatened to put violators behind bars.
And in this holiday season, the government wants to extend the price cuts to big-ticket items like plasma TVs, refrigerators and computers.
That’s cheerful news for Venezuelan households as long as the stocks, which are fast disappearing, last until they are able to acquire them.
Business leaders are grumbling, however. Maduro’s order is forcing some retailers to sell at a loss, they say, and that’s bad for the entire economy as it discourages imports and triggers shortages.
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