President Nicolás Maduro has decided it is time to stop waiting around for the Venezuelan economic crisis to end on its own and has resorted to extreme measures to fight what he has identified as an “economic war” waged by his opposition. In the latest show of force, the Venezuelan government ordered a well-known electronics chain to change prices to government-approved rates.
Daka, the largest Venezuelan electronics chain, was therefore occupied by the Army, which confiscated all items to then sell them at “fair prices.” “Nothing should remain on the shelves!” read the presidential order.
The chain, founded in 2004, belongs to a family of Arab origin that has been linked to Chavismo -- although its affiliations with the philosophy of late president Hugo Chávez, embraced openly by Maduro, did nothing to help them. What some called "government-sponsored looting” brought in thousands of Venezuelans hoping to snatch a piece of electronics at 60 percent to 90 percent discounted prices. Several stores were taken by force, as reported by Caracas newspaper El Universal, which prompted the intervention of the national police.
Daka was only the beginning, though: On Sunday, several other electronics stores in Caracas suffered the same fate, and these stores will not be the only ones. “This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we are planning to do with the bourgeoisie,” said Maduro in a televised speech. According to Spanish newspaper El País, the owners of Daka and JVG, another large chain, have been arrested.
The government accused the store owners of artificially increasing prices, therefore creating an “induced inflation,” identified as the main weapon in the "economic war." Venezuela’s Central Bank reported on Thursday that prices had risen 5 percent in October, for an annual inflation of 54 percent.
Maduro also targeted several Internet websites, like dolartoday.com and tucadivi.com, which monitor the exchange rates of the black currency market. Black market currency exchange has been illegal since 2005. The president said that the sites promoted a false image of the Venezuelan currency, the bolívar. “We are not going to allow being made fun of for the measures we take,” he said.
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...