Government acts to stem Barbie panic

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan socialism has embraced Barbie, just in time for Christmas

Mothers, grandmothers and beaming little girls are grabbing armfuls of the dolls in toy stores across Caracas, taking advantage of the government's order that large chains sell the plastic figurines at fire-sale prices during the holiday shopping season.

They're selling at a price of 250 bolivars, or $2.50 at the widely used black market conversion rate.

The socialist government has long imposed price caps on scores of essential products, from milk to detergent to diapers.

Now it's making the Barbie doll a highlight of this year's "Operation Merry Christmas" initiative, which President Nicolas Maduro says is meant to prevent speculators from ruining the holidays.