This weekend, the government went all María Bolívar on the economy and decided to bring down the prices by, wait for it, bringing down the prices. The assault started with Libertador Councilman William Contreras and his team of goons from The National Superintendency for the Defense of Fair Prices (SUNDDE). They visited shops and businesses in busy Sabana Grande, and demanded they sell all of their stuff with 30 to 50% discounts. Just like that.
It’s not like this is something new. Except, normally these price-slashing inspections have a varnish of institutionality, a procedure they have to follow. They analyze the cost structure of each business and assign a price that yields a 30% earning. But because of the recent rise of the black market dollar, and its effect in some prices, this time they threw the already nonsensical procedure they’d invented promptly out of the window.
Even the inspectors got scolded for following the rules, here are some quotes from the video above:
“What are you waiting for to demand the lowering of prices?”
“Don’t make any calculations, just BRING DOWN THE PRICES, BRING DOWN THE PRICES.”
“Don’t ask for any invoices because they will lie to you, just bring down the prices, that’s the order”
“Don’t waste your time on this [pointing the papers at the counter] because no one will tell us the truth, no one is telling the truth”
Government propaganda has done wonders with that guy, he looks genuinely angry at the business owners, and even threatens them with prison. He feels untouchable with his small quota of power, above the law. He justifies his actions by saying they want to make sure people have access to the holiday shopping season, despite the rise of the criminal dollar. In his mind this truly is a war.
What’s more disturbing is that they are planning to expand these raids to the whole of the country. With a 50% mandatory discount, they will most likely bankrupt every shop they visit. This new plague needs to be stopped now, or 2017 will be uglier than we thought.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.