It’s that time of year again: Christmas, the time for altruism, to give back and think of the welfare of others. The holiday spirit has evidently caught up with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who in this special time of year has taken it upon himself to do something nice for his fellow citizens: He is going to repeat the offensive takeover of November, when the army seized several electronics stores and lowered the prices to so-called state amounts.
Maduro defended on Thursday a new cycle of inspections and seizures in his plan o guarantee that no retailer increases the official marked price by more than 30 percent, the profit margin accepted by the government.
“I am looking to protect Christmas for all Venezuelans,” he told local news agency AVN.
During the November offensive against the “economic war,” as the government has identified the current financial crisis blaming it on the opposition, the army confiscated all items in the electronics chain Daka, and then resold them at “fair prices.” In a move that some called “government-sponsored looting,” the country went into chaos as citizens tried to get hold of items that had been discounted by 90 percent.
The government accused the owners of the store of artificially increasing prices by as much as 2,000 percent of the official amount. The owners of the chain were arrested for this action, and were put on probation by a judge, before whom they will have to appear every 21 days.
Venezuela’s Central Bank reported that inflation in the country, currently at 54 percent, is at a two-decade high.
However, Maduro did not want the spirit of Christmas to be founded on economic quarrels. He proclaimed an early start to the holidays (as early as Nov. 2), so the country could be inspired in the feeling of joy that the season naturally evokes in people. No violence or bad vibes are allowed. “Whoever’s bitter will get a carol or a Christmas drink, to cheer up their soul,” he said on a televised speech.
Nevertheless, the war on corruption does not end. Maduro promised his people that the “institutional offensive” will start in full force on the first three months of 2014. “It will be a deep, full and extended fight against corruption,” he said.
“It will be nothing like what has been seen in Venezuela until now. We will construct a new citizen ethics, based on private and public decency,” he added.
Patricia covers Latin America for the International Business Times.
Before joining IBT in March 2013, she worked at BBC America in New York, La República in Lima...