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“We expect the increase in spending and the increase of the money supply to create significant inflationary pressures,” said Alejandro Arreaza, an economist at Barclays Capital in New York who tracks Latin American economies.

The New York-based Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm, ranked Venezuela 10th on its list of top risks in the world last week, saying the election may further complicate the economic situation.

The price of a 2.2 pounds of beef already has risen from the equivalent of $6.51 to $9.77 in the past year, while the same amount of sugar has gone from 87 cents to $2.56, and is still hard to find in stores.

The government-set price for a quart bottle of corn oil stands at $1.40, but it’s usually absent in stores and sold illegally by street vendors at $4.50 or more.

“We sure do a lot of walking to find food,” said Carmen Montalvo, a 40-year-old housekeeper. “Cooking oil was scarce, but we’ve found it.”

She said her family used to get by spending a bit more than $200 a week on groceries, but it’s no longer enough.

“We used to go out with half as much, and we could eat. Now the most expensive thing is food,” said Ms. Montalvo, who lives in a two-room house with her four children, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren.

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 Mr. Chavez, are particularly hard-hit by rising food prices, which according to the Central Bank, increased by more than 35 percent last year.

Still, the political damage to Mr. Chavez thus far seems limited. Recent polls show his support above 50 percent.

Pollster Luis Vicente Leon said most Venezuelans don’t blame the government directly for inflation, which has long been a problem in the country. In the 1990s, for instance, Venezuela’s inflation rates topped 80 percent, though that was in the midst of a major financial crisis.

Today’s financial situation is different, however, and still the government hasn’t been able to lower inflation below 20 percent in the past five years.

Even as the economy rebounded and grew about 4 percent in 2011, salaries didn’t keep up with inflation for many Venezuelans.

Economist Angel Garcia Banchs, a professor at Central University of Venezuela, said he calculates the real value of average private sector salaries has fallen 21 percent between 1998 and 2010.

Trying to counteract that trend, Mr. Chavez repeatedly has raised the minimum wage to keep up with inflation, increasing it by 25 percent last year to the equivalent of $360 a month. He also approved 50 percent salary raises for the military, 30 percent pay increases for state-employed doctors and 40 percent more for teachers.

The government runs a network of state-run markets that sell food at discount prices and is a central part of its anti-inflation strategy.

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