HAVANA TIMES — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on the armed forces Monday to search for business owners who refuse to open their stores and sell at “fair” prices, amid a government crackdown on speculation and usury, generating long lines of shoppers in stores, reported dpa news.
At the same time, he announced the creation of special courts and prosecutors to prosecute business owners who sell their products at inflated prices or refuse to sell according to the regulations set by the government.
In its fight against inflation, the government has targeted appliance shops, claiming they sell at inflated prices.
Maduro said that business owners expect to sell at prices based on the parallel market exchange at 60.00 bolivars per dollar, instead of using the official rate of 6.30 bolivars to the dollar.
The military officers said the stores must sell their products with 40 and 60 percent off, in what they call “fair” prices.
“Entrepreneurs who say they were closed for inventory have until noon tomorrow (Tuesday) to open and sell at fair prices. We will deploy troops, search for the owners and ensure they open and sell at fair prices. We will show that there is a legitimate authority in Venezuela and that there a conscious people,” said Maduro in Caracas.
In recent days, the government declared war on usury and speculation, and called in the armed forces and the militia, to keep order as hundreds of shoppers flocked to stores.
“What we are experiencing is more than usury; the easy money is an economic war against the people,” Maduro said, adding that the country faces “induced” inflation, now at 43%, which “has no other explanation than greed.”
“It’s an economic war unleashed against the people that is not logical. We’ve come to correct the causes and we are working to correct the price fixing. What we are seeing are the remains of neoliberal capitalism, a policy that seeks to impose the destruction and chaos,” he said.
Madruo warned that his government will not allow usury. He asked prosecutors and special courts to punish “these bandits and thieves who are waging an economic war against the people.”
“Venezuela continues on the path towards Christian socialism initiated by our commander ( the late President Hugo Chavez),” he said, adding that the price oversight process is developing in peace.