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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Venezuela Prevents Opposition Leader From Running

Election officials reject Maria Corina Machado's attempt to register as a candidate Monday for upcoming congressional elections
More

Mexico City Mayor Vows Full Probe of Journalist Slaying

Journalist groups had expressed fears authorities would not consider Ruben Espinosa's murder as being related to his work, even though colleagues say he fled state he covered fearing for his safety
More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession
More

Brazilian Police Arrest Lula Minister in Bribery Scandal

Jose Dirceu is one of most senior members of ruling Workers' Party to be detained so far in corruption scandal engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras
More

Poll: Disapproval of Chile's Bachelet Hits Record High

Chileans have soured on president as slow economic growth and scandals involving money in politics have marred her message of addressing deep inequality
More

IOC to Test Rio's Olympic Water Venues for Viruses

Decision prompted by Associated Press investigation published last week revealing high counts of viruses directly linked to human sewage in Olympic waters
More