[Marxism] “We will protect the PEOPLE against bourgeois parasitism”

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 11 07:56:37 MST 2013

NY Times November 10, 2013
Venezuelan Soldiers Deployed to Stores

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Christmas shopping season has started with a 
jolt here, with the socialist Venezuelan government dispatching soldiers 
to “occupy” a major chain of electronic goods stores, ordering prices 
slashed there and in other shops that it has accused of price gouging.

Huge crowds formed outside stores in several cities over the weekend as 
inflation-weary Venezuelans showed up hoping for bargains. Others took 
the government’s order as a license to loot: Some posted cellphone 
videos online showing large-screen televisions and other items being 
carted off in Valencia, the country’s third-largest city.

The dramatic measures, ordered on Friday by President Nicolás Maduro, 
were reminiscent of the populist gestures of his immediate predecessor, 
Hugo Chávez, the country’s longtime leader who died in March.

They come as the government grapples with serious economic problems, 
including inflation of 54 percent a year and shortages of many basic 
goods, including toilet paper, milk and flour.

All of that is weighing on Mr. Maduro a month ahead of municipal 
elections that the opposition is seeking to cast as a referendum on his 
young government. Mr. Maduro argues that his government is facing an 
“economic war” waged by what he calls the right-wing opposition in 
Venezuela and its backers in Colombia and the United States.

In announcing that military personnel would occupy the five-store 
electronics chain Daka, Mr. Maduro said that the government would 
supervise sales at significantly lower prices and that the store’s stock 
would be liquidated.

“Let nothing remain on the shelves!” he said during a television broadcast.

Mr. Maduro also dispatched officials to inspect other stores around the 
country, saying they, too, would be forced to charge what the government 
considers fair prices.

Officials said over the weekend that several store managers had been 
arrested and would face charges of setting overly high prices. Luisa 
Ortega, the national prosecutor, said that some people had also been 
arrested and accused of looting.

Vice President Jorge Arreaza, who is married to one of Mr. Chávez’s 
daughters, said on Twitter on Sunday that the campaign against what the 
government calls speculators would continue forcefully. “We will protect 
the PEOPLE against bourgeois parasitism,” he wrote, echoing language 
often used by Mr. Maduro.

Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition leader whom Mr. Maduro 
narrowly beat in an election to replace Mr. Chávez in April, criticized 
the measures on his Twitter account, writing, “Maduro in desperation 
over his failure and inability to lead the country takes measures that 
do not solve the economic crisis.”

The crowds forming outside stores over the weekend included both 
government loyalists and opponents. What they shared was a growing 
frustration with the country’s economic malaise and prices that keep 
soaring, fostering anger with both the government and merchants.

The main government television station on Sunday repeatedly showed video 
clips in which Hebert García, the head of the recently created Supreme 
Organ for the Popular Defense of the Economy, and other officials vowed 
to keep up the pressure on so-called speculators.

More information about the Marxism mailing list