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Venezuelans shop for food, which costs 27% more than it did a year ago

Fernando Llano / AP

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, customers shop in Guaicaipuro food market in Caracas, Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez's government is likely to spend heavily in 2012 to rev up the economy during his re-election bid, and that could worsen one of Venezuela's biggest problems: 27-percent annual inflation that is already close to the highest in the world. Polls consistently show that Venezuelans see inflation as one of the country's biggest problems after violent crime. Poor Venezuelans, who traditionally have been key supporters of Chavez, are particularly hard-hit by rising food prices, which according to the Central Bank, increased by more than 35 percent last year.

Fernando Llano / AP

In this photo taken on Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011, a woman looks at the prices of beans at Guaicaipuro food market in Caracas.

From AP:

"I buy what's most necessary, which is food, and I don't buy other things, you know, like clothes," said Nebis Berrios, a 55-year-old woman who says her husband's modest pay does not go as far as before. "As far as the money goes, we buy food. And if not, that's as far as we get."

The oil-exporting country has had the highest inflation in the Americas for six years running. No other country is even close, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America.