Late last week, starting on Thursday, Venezuelan authorities seized almost four million toys from warehouses across the capital city of Caracas. William Contreras, Venezuela’s national superintendent for the defense of socioeconomic rights oversaw the seizures from the Kreisel toy company.
In addition to arresting two high level employees of the toy company, the consumer protection has requested to the attorney general’s office that all Kreisel executives be prohibited from leaving the country for the duration of the investigation.
Venezuela’s socialist government accuses Kreisel of hoarding toys in order to drive up prices just before the holiday season, which is illegal given that toys fall within the category of goods subject to government price controls. The government intends to distribute the toys to pre-approved stores that will sell the bicycles, dolls, race cars, and whatever else the was plundered, at severely discounted prices.
The agency headed by Contreras claims that the toys were an “arsenal used by the company [Kreisel] in the economic war against the people, without regard to the individual rights of the boys and girls of the country.” This claim is generally in line with typical rhetoric from the failing government of socialist president Nicolás Maduro. Unwilling to accept that their economic ineptitude is the cause of Venezuela’s current economic crisis, the government constantly bashes corporations and the capitalist system in general for the country’s problems.
The clear breach of property rights is just one of the latest ineffective moves by the Venezuelan government to address the problems facing the country. And while toys will be a welcome sign for some of Venezuela’s impoverished, it will do little to ease their economic burden. The bolivar, Venezuela’s currency, has lost half its value since the beginning of November. The IMF has estimated inflation for 2016 to be around 475% and predicts the figure will jump to around 1650% in 2017.
The governments other plan to address the issue of inflation is to introduce new bank notes. The 100 bolivar note will be scrapped, and replaced with coins and new notes ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars. This is unlikely to help cash-strapped citizens, but at least the government stole some toys for them.