Chaos struck Venezuela’s economy this past week. As its inflation rose consistently over the last few years, Venezuela’s president – Nicolás Maduro – tried to fix the problem with more government intervention. His offensive to fix the inflation problem was to decrease the prices in electronics stores through out the country. This not only caused a lot of people to lose money, but also bonds to drop sharply and many people to be arrested.
Accusing the stores of price gouging, Maduro sent soldiers to occupy the Daka electronics chain in Caracas, forcing them to sell their products at cheaper prices. Enormous crowds of people gathered outside of the stores, hoping to get good bargains. To Maduro, he was just fighting what he referred to as an “economic war” against domestic right-wing opponents, but to the rest of Venezuela, it was economic chaos. Still grappling with economic issues like their 54% inflation rate, and their shortage of basic goods (including milk, toilet paper, and flour), many Venezuelans involved in retail business were scared to see the outcome of Maduro’s new madness.
Daka’s – the electronics store that was targeted – stocks of goods were liquidated at a much lower price than they were supposed to. Not only did he ruin the business for this store, but he also sent his soldiers out to inspect other stores that he might consider should be charging what the government think is “fair prices.” Many store officials were arrested and would be taken to trial on the charge of setting overly high prices. Additionally, some people were even accused of looting. His supporters believe that he has done what the economy needed, tried to decrease the inflation. However, most of the Venezuelans are enraged, and like Henrique Capriles – the opposition leader – said in an interview, “Maduro in desperation over his failure and inability to lead the country takes measures that do not solve the economic crisis.”