Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to Venezulans, who have lost their privately owned radio and television, and now will be treated to Socialist Super Shopping. How do private businesses stay open against government competition? The answer: not long.
President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday announced a new chain of government-run, cut-rate retail
stores that will sell everything from food to cars to clothing from
places such as China, Argentina and Bolivia.
“They’ll see what’s
good. We’ll show them what a real market is all about, not those
speculative, money-grubbing markets, but a market for the people,” said
Chavez in his drive to change Venezuela from a market-based economy to a socialist one.
“We’re going to challenge all that junk food that just fattens people up,” he added referring to the arepa stand he opened to the public.
Chavez said the Comerso chain of stores will include “a network of
subsidiaries” that will sell new vehicles directly imported from China nd Argentina, “without capitalist intermediaries.”
“We’re going to defeat speculation. Private individuals in sales can
still sell, but they’ll have to compete with us and with a people who
is now fully aware,” Chavez said.
He said the new discount retail chain will also sell clothing and furnishings imported from Bolivia, Venezuela’s closest leftist ally in the region.
The socialist retail outlets will serve the public alongside the Mercal supermarket chain, which sells subsidized food in Venezuela’s working-class neighborhoods.
In his effort to break Venezuela’s ependency on foreign goods, Chavez in May launched the Movilnet cell
phone company that makes the “Vergatario,” a locally made mobile that
sells for 13.95 dollars but that few stores have in stock.
The Margarita Island Hilton was recently seized by Chavez, and it joins
it’s previously stolen Caracas Hilton, which was seized by Chavez two years ago:
Last week it acquired a sister: the government seized the Hilton on
Margarita island, Venezuela’s tourist playground. It had angered Chávez
during a meeting of African leaders he hosted at the hotel. “The owners
tried to impose conditions on the revolutionary government. No way. So
I said, ‘Let’s expropriate it.’ And now it’s been expropriated.”
Banks in Venezuela are having their problems as well. Saying “we aren’t here to make money,” Chavez shut down the 8th bank in less than three weeks earlier this month.
Before the government stepped in, the eight banks accounted for about 9 percent of the Venezuelan banking industry. They had about 4,000 employees, many of whom are expected to absorbed by a new state-run bank that is being created.
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