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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Hurricane Cristobal Kills Four, Moves Toward Bermuda

Storm is not expected to threaten US, but could cause deadly surf and rip currents from Florida to North Carolina
More

Peru's Congress Narrowly OKs Humala's New Cabinet on 3rd Vote

Lawmakers ratify president's embattled cabinet after ruling party offers to suspend rule requiring independent workers to pay into a pension program
More

Brazil's Deadly Prison Riot Ends

Officials say two inmates were beheaded during the Cascavel riot; two others were thrown to their deaths from the roof, and police are investigating how a fifth inmate died
More

Amid Slowdown, Chileans Adjust to New Economic Reality

Most economists now predict overall growth in country's economy of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent this year, down from 4.1 percent in 2013
More

Video Yiddish Tango Reflects Jewish Life in Argentina

Jewish people from Europe, Russia who have emigrated to Argentina for hundreds of years have fused klezmer and Argentine tango, creating Yiddish tango
More

Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake Hits Peru

Peru's civil defense institute said there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage
More