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.
"We're creating Comerso, meaning Socialist Corporation of Markets," Chavez said at the opening of a "socialist" fast-food location for traditional Venezuelan arepas (cornbread).
"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 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:
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.
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.Related and Background:
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