On Friday, the government of Venezuela seized control of a chain appliance stores that stretched across the country.
Shoppers started hearing on Friday that President Nicolas Maduro had ordered the stores seized to sell electronics at less expensive prices. By midnight on Friday, hundreds of shoppers were amassing outside the stores waiting for the doors to open.
Price inspectors from the government said they had found evidence that usury was taking place and Maduro ordered the occupation of the stores.
In a Friday night televised address, the president said he would reopen the seized stores on Saturday and unload the plasma TVs, washing machines and other electronics at prices that were fair to the public.
He told the citizens of his country to leave nothing on the store shelves or in the store warehouses.
The out of control inflation in the country, which is at 54% is causing problems across all families in the biggest oil producer in South America. Last Wednesday, Maduro tightened currency transaction controls.
With municipal elections coming up in December, Maduro also ordered his military to shutter businesses that were hoarding products and speculating prices. In just their second day, inspectors took control of two Daka stores.
By nightfall, the military, some with assault rifles, helped to control order outside the seized stores by giving numbers to shoppers as they formed lines that went around the block.
Prices of products had skyrocketed to over $8,500 for a plasma television, when the same product was available on the black market for only $1,000.
The owners of the stores seized have not responded to the government’s accusations or the seizing of their stores. Reports were that the owners did not live in Venezuela but in Miami.
Even Maduro’s opponents expressed some sympathy for the effort he was putting in for price gouging by the private sector.
One woman watching the activity around the store does not agree with the current government in general, but said that she does not like it when she and her fellow Venezuelans are abused by businesses and their high prices.
The upcoming municipal elections are turning out to be more of a referendum on the controversial seven months that Maduro has been president and his rocky rule.
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