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Venezuelan consumers are increasingly facing periodic shortages of basic food products as the economy shows signs of overheating amid record revenues from an oil boom.
The shortages have increased skepticism of Chavez's economic policies and provided a political backdrop to campaigning this month for a referendum on a new constitution that he says is needed to make Venezuela a socialist state.
Businesses say price controls on staple foods are so low they discourage investment and force stores
"The government says the problem is caused by growing demand by poor citizens who benefit from social programs."