Monthly inflation at 17-year high in Venezuela

Venezuela's monthly inflation reaches 6.1 percent, the nation's highest rate in 17 years

Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Inflation in Venezuela reached 6.1 percent last month, the oil-rich nation's highest monthly inflation in 17 years.

Venezuela's Central Bank released the figure Thursday, citing mostly rising food prices. Currency and price controls are blamed for shortages of basics including flour, sugar, cooking oil and toilet paper.

Currency controls have helped make the black market dollar worth more than four times the official dollar, which is virtually impossible to obtain legally.

Many economists believe socialist-run Venezuela is in a recession as rising domestic demand for gasoline crimps oil exports.

Venezuela's annual inflation rate was 35.2 percent through May — 12.6 percentage points higher than last year. The previous monthly high of 7.1 percent was in June 1996.

The western state of Zulia plans to start limited food rationing next week.

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