More forced price cuts possible for stores in Venezuela
CARACAS — Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro intensified his perceived fight on Monday against “bourgeois parasites” he accuses of an economic war against the socialist country by threatening to force more stores to sell their merchandise at cut-rate prices.
National guardsmen, some of whom had assault rifles, were positioned around outlets of an electronics chain that Maduro has ordered to lower prices or face prosecution. Thousands of people lined up at the Daka stores hoping for a bargain after the government forced the companies to charge “fair” prices.
“I want a Sony plasma television for the house,” said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator who waited seven hours outside a Caracas Daka store, similar to Best Buy. “It's going to be so cheap!”
Five managers of Daka are being threatened with prosecution for unjustifiable price increases, the Venezuela government said.
“This is for the good of the nation,” Maduro said, referring to the military's occupation of Daka. “Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses ... Let nothing remain in stock!”
Maduro is expected to win decree powers in Congress in the next few days that he says will be used to take over more warehouses.
The assault against business arrives amid a severe shortage of basic goods and extreme inflation, which is at an annual rate of 54.3 percent. Both are tied to policies of the government, which is boosting public spending and printing money in record amounts to pay for it.
Venezuela's central bank said the country's money supply grew 70 percent in the past year. As a result, the value of the Venezuela bolivar continues to drop at a time when the country must import increasing amounts of basics like food and even toilet paper because of failed state schemes for running the economy.