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Venezuelan government plunders toy manufacturer to redistribute toys to the poor

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CARACAS, VENEZUELA - DECEMBER 24: A child reaches out for a free toy as she and huge crowds of needy people gather anxiously to receive presents from Santa Claus which were donated by various local Caracas organizations December 24,2002 in Caracas, Venezuela. Business, labor and opposition political parties called a general strike December 2, 2002 to demand that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez resign or submit to early elections. The parties rejected the government's appeal for a truce during Christmas. The country is in the fourth week of the strike which continues to cripple Venezuela's vital oil industry. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

In some twisted version of Socialist Robin Hood, the Venezuelan government last week confiscated, by their own count, 3.8 million toys from a distributor and plans to hand them out to poor children this Christmas season.

CNN reports the Venezuelan government alleges that Kreisel-Venezuela, the largest toy distributor of its kind in the country, planned to sell the toys to families at a much-inflated price. Government officials say they will now make the toys available to poorer areas at a below-market price point.

Toys are one good in Venezuela that is regulated and must have a pre-approved government price tag.

From CNN:

It's not clear what effect, if any, the confiscation of the millions of toys will have on the toy market in Venezuela just two weeks before Christmas.

Government officials said some of the toys were bought by Kriesel as far back as 2008 and were being kept in storage to be sold for a much higher margin of profit, as high at 25,000%, according to government figures.

Some Twitter users wondered if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was "the modern Grinch."

Venezuela has been experiencing a severe economic collapse, with the value of the state currency, the bolivar, approximated at around $0.15. Inflation in the country has skyrocketed to 500 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

One Venezuelan agency head told reporters, "They say we're stealing the toys from this company, but the company committed fraud against our country."

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