Venezuela floods shops with unaffordable goods ahead of Christmas

Topping off a year of economic crisis that left many Venezuelans hungry, the country's socialist government is flooding shops with products ahead of Christmas, at prices that most cannot afford.

Thousands of containers of festive food and toys are on their way, say authorities, and while supermarket shelves appear fuller, prices are ludicrously high for people earning just tens of dollars a month at the black market exchange rate.

"If you've got money, then of course you're happy," said Geronimo Perez, selling newspapers in the center of Caracas. "But if not, you're left empty-handed."

A 1.8-kilogram (4 lbs) carton of powdered milk costs the equivalent of $20 in Caracas at the black market exchange rate. That's more than two weeks' work at Venezuela's minimum wage.

The country is undergoing major economic and social problems, as a decade and a half of currency controls, price controls and now low oil prices have left the government and businesses without sufficient hard currency to import goods.