News / Americas

Maduro Government 'Occupies' Venezuela Electronics Chain

President Nicolas Maduro, right, with Adan Chavez, (left) brother of the late president Hugo Chavez, and Venezuela first lady Cilia Flores, visit the late leader's tomb in Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 5, 2013.
President Nicolas Maduro, right, with Adan Chavez, (left) brother of the late president Hugo Chavez, and Venezuela first lady Cilia Flores, visit the late leader's tomb in Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 5, 2013.
Reuters
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the “occupation” of a chain of electronic goods stores in a crackdown on what the socialist government views as price-gouging hobbling the country's economy.

Various managers of the five-store, 500-employee Daka chain have been arrested, and the company will now be forced to sell products at “fair prices,” Maduro said late on Friday.

State media showed soldiers in one Daka shop checking the price tags on large flat-screen TVs. And hundreds of bargain-hunters flocked to Daka stores on Saturday morning to take advantage of the new, cheaper prices.

“We're doing this for the good of the nation,” said Maduro, 50, who accuses wealthy businessmen and right-wing political opponents backed by the United States of waging an economic “war” against him.

“I've ordered the immediate occupation of this chain to offer its products to the people at fair prices, everything. Let nothing remain in stock ... We're going to comb the whole nation in the next few days. This robbery of the people has to stop.”

The measure, which comes after weeks of warnings from the government of a pre-Christmas push against private businesses to keep prices down, recalled the sweeping takeovers during the 14-year rule of Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Maduro, who took over from Chavez in April after the latter's death from cancer, has stopped short of more outright nationalizations, in this case saying authorities would instead force Daka to sell at state-fixed prices.

“Inflation's killing us. I'm not sure if this was the right way, but something had to be done. I think it's right to make people sell things at fair prices,” said Carlos Rangel, 37, among about 500 people queuing outside a Daka store in Caracas.

Rangel had waited overnight, with various relatives, to be at the front of the queue and was hoping to find a cheap TV and air-conditioning unit.

Soldiers stood on guard outside the store before it opened.

Critics say Venezuela's runaway inflation - the annual rate is now 54 percent, the highest since Chavez came to power in 1999 - is due to economic mismanagement and the failure of socialist policies rather than unscrupulous retailers.

Price distortions

Opponents also blame excessive government controls and persecution of the private sector for shortages of basic goods ranging from flour to toilet paper, and for price distortions and corruption caused by a black-market currency rate nearly 10 times higher the official price.

“This ridiculous show they've mounted with Daka is a not-very-subtle warning to us all,” said a Venezuelan businessman who imports electronic goods and is an opposition supporter.

Under price controls set up a decade ago, the state sells a limited amount of dollars at 6.3 bolivars, but given the short supply, some importers complain they are forced into a black market where the price is nearly ten-fold higher.

“Because they don't allow me to buy dollars at the official rate of 6.3, I have to buy goods with black market dollars at about 60 bolivars, so how can I be expected to sell things at a loss? Can my children eat with that?” added the businessman, who asked not to be named.

Maduro showed astonishment at a fridge on sale in Daka for 196,000 bolivars ($31,111 at the official rate), and said an air-conditioning unit that goes for 7,000 bolivars ($1,111) in state stores was marked up 36,000 bolivars ($5,714) by Daka.

Daka officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Maduro retains support from large sections of the population, particularly the poor who benefit from massive state welfare programs and who remain loyal to Chavez's dying exhortation to support his chosen successor.

But the growing economic problems in a country which is a member of OPEC and has the world's largest oil reserves, have begun weighing on his popularity, which dropped 10 points in recent months to 41 percent according to a recent survey by pollster Datanalisis.

The economy is the No. 1 issue going into local elections next month that are the 50-year-old Maduro's first test at the polls since narrowly beating opposition leader Henrique Capriles in the April presidential vote to replace Chavez.

Capriles, 40, is trying to cast the Dec. 8 nationwide municipal elections as a referendum on Maduro, whose legitimacy he still refuses to accept, alleging fraud at the poll.

“They don't say how they will fix inflation, shortages, devaluation. Incompetence rules,” he tweeted this week in the latest of a stream of attacks on the government.

Many economists are predicting a devaluation of Venezuela's bolivar currency after the elections, perhaps in early 2014, but senior officials have repeatedly denied that.

“Venezuela's immense resource base means it is not on the verge of collapse or default,” said David Smilde, a sociology professor at the University of Georgia who has studied Venezuela for 20 years, in a recent blog on the economy. “But it is sliding into serious economic dysfunction and that could seriously undercut Chavismo's viability as a democratically supported political project.”

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Martin Gill
November 12, 2013 9:32 AM
"“Inflation's killing us. I'm not sure if this was the right way, but something had to be done. I think it's right to make people sell things at fair prices,” said Carlos Rangel, 37..."

Just like all liberal politicians and liberal voters or socialist supporters, just do something, regardless of whether it will fix the problem or not! So long Venezuela, it was entertaining knowing you.


by: Sentinel from: USA
November 09, 2013 10:44 PM
It's happening here in the US too, just not as blatantly.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Captures Wanted Drug Kingpin Hector Beltran Leyva

Beltran Leyva is one of four brothers who allegedly headed a vicious Mexican drug cartel after it split with the Sinaloa cartel
More

Mother Says Former US Marine Needs Treatment, Not Mexican Prison

Jill Tahmooressi said son Andrew, 26, has been threatened by prison guards with rape, torture and execution since his arrest in March
More

Rio 2016 Olympics Progress Impressive, Says IOC in Change of Tone

Assessment, in stark contrast to ‘worst’ ever remark made by one committee member, comes after latest site inspection
More

Mexican Soldiers Face Murder Charges in 22 Deaths

Three soldiers charged with homicide in death of 22 suspected drug gang members who prosecutors allege were executed
More

Poll: Record Number of Mexicans Crime Victims in 2013

While government data shows murder rate has fallen in past 2 years, crimes such as kidnapping and extortion, which affect wider swath of the population, rise
More

OAS Asks Members to Take In Guantanamo Detainees

Organization of American States issues appeal for member countries to take in detainees from US military prison
More