On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro redoubled his efforts to lobby the National Assembly for special powers to govern by decree under the Ley Habilitante (Enabling Law). Just days before the legislature is expected to vote on the measure, President Maduro vowed to extend Venezuela’s ineffective price controls to all consumer goods.
In an act reminiscent of his predecessor, the late President Hugo Chávez, President Maduro ordered the National Guard to seize several popular electronic shops on Saturday for allegedly selling goods at inflated prices. Despite an inflation rate of 54.3 percent and an artificially low exchange rate, the Maduro blamed increased prices for goods on corporate greed and now five managers from Daka, JVG and Krash stores face prosecution for price hikes.
President Maduro first petitioned the National Assembly for expanded powers at the beginning of October in order to fight corruption and “capitalist logic.” Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost the general election in April, has accused the government of scaring “away investments that would create employment,” and of worsening the economic crisis in the OPEC country.
While hundreds of customers lined up outside the retailers for the reduced priced goods, many Venezuelans saw the tactic as a way of ensuring votes in the upcoming December 8 municipal elections in light of the president’s decreased popularity.