|América Alonso, representative of hypermarkets Makro that has just introduced biometric finger printing to prevent resellers from purchasing many products and selling them on at higher prices, noted various aspects of the lines and the economic war in Venezuela.
Alonso, who can hardly be called a “chavista or supporter of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)”, stated that “30% of the people in the lines are those that really need the products. Others are buying in almost panic mode. One of the problems is that if you buy a kilo of detergent here at Bs.30 and sell it on at Bs.350, then there is no better business than that”.
She noted that there are enough products being produced but demand has skyrocketed in January this year for the reasons outlined above. The solution is to produce more to balance supply and demand and at the same time to work together for the good of the country.
It is a pity that other businessmen do not take this attitude instead of participating in US plans to destabilize the economy – for which they will eventually pay as have the owners of the Farmatodo and Día a Día chains all of whom are behind bars awaiting trial and facing 10 years in jail.
Increasing Food Availability
In a clear response to the economic war being waged on the Venezuelan people using hoarding, speculation, and smuggling of basic goods to Colombia at huge profits, Carlos Osorio, Minister of Food Sovereignty and Security, announced that 500 open air markets would be held on the weekend on February 7-8 throughout the country.
This an effective way of offsetting frustration and time spent in lines outside supermarkets, and was a successful strategy implemented by President Chávez during the oil industry sabotage and bosses lock-out of 2002–2003.
However, this time around, Minister Osorio made a point of emphasizing that the tonnage of food available will be increased from 13,000 tons to 29,000 per month to combat the economic war.
In order to combat the lines that are now a regular feature of the urban landscape, the state grocery chain PDVAL has started taking supplies directly by truck into the popular areas so that people do not have to spend time away from home standing in lines. Minister Osorio stated that “the goal is to establish ten thousand smaller mobile PDVALs to sell food locally”.
200 tons of food detected in west Caracas
Various trucks were intercepted by the authorities carrying merchandise to Catia in west Caracas when they should have been on route to Santa Lucia in Miranda state. One truck was, to all appearances, carrying vegetables but underneath the licit cargo were hidden 600 kilos of refined sugar with no documentation to support it.
All the merchandise was unloaded and will be sold at solidarity prices to the local population. The proceeds of this sale will go to the Fund for Socialist Efficiency and the trucks were confiscated.
In the same operation, one ton of chicken was recovered which was being sold at speculative prices by the Don José Chicken Distributor in Catia itself.
Rice caught on the border
White rice has all but vanished from supermarket shelves in the last three weeks – at least in Caracas. Imported rice is being offered at almost 30 times the cost of home grown rice.
One of the reasons for this is the smuggling of rice to Colombia, and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrin López reported that a truck was caught trying to cross the border from Zulia state to Colombia late last week.
The driver had no documentation. The action taken was to confiscate the rice, the truck ,and send the driver on his way to the Attorney General’s Office to be charged and interrogated for breaking the Law on Fair Prices.
Chicken at three times the price
Managers of the Galipan Chicken Processing Company located on the outskirts of Greater Caracas in Caucaguita got a rude awakening when the National Guard arrived with an occupation order of their business.
Intelligence from the local population had detected irregularities at this processing plant as chicken was being sold at speculative prices and there were signs of hoarding of tons of refrigerated birds. This was one of the first operations of the Civic-Military Commands set up by President Maduro to combat the economic war.
The National Guard discovered 28,700 kilos of hoarded chicken and confirmed that the report had come from workers in the plant. The manager was arrested and held for questioning and arrest warrants were issued against the owners whose whereabouts was not known.
Almost got away
The Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) detained Tadeo Arriechi Franco (37) who was on the point of boarding a flight from Barcelona to Panamá.
Arrechi Franco is one of the managers of the Día a Día supermarket chain that was occupied by the authorities last week for hoarding and destabilizing the economy. He joins the chain’s owner, Manuel Andrés Morales Ordosgoitti, behind bars and awaiting trial for crimes against the economy and hence the Venezuelan people.
Día a Día issued a press release claiming that they had not done anything wrong and only serve the public, but evidence gathered by the authorities indicated that of the 2500 tons of food discovered in their warehouse in south-west caracas in La Yaguara, only 9 tons per days were scheduled to be delivered.
The other question is why was Arrechi Franco trying to flee the country if there was no conspiracy of being involved in the economic war for political reasons. Why did he not stay in Venezuela to defend the company? No doubt all this will be clarified at the trial.
Products past their sell-by date destroyed
Working on information gathered from the population, the Intelligence Division of the Bolivarian National Police Force (CPNB) discovered thousands of packets of diapers and sanitary towels hidden in an abandoned house in the sector Urdaneta de Catia in west Caracas.
The merchandise could not be sold to the public as it was past its sell-by date and so 1014 packets of diapers and 507 packs of sanitary towels had to be destroyed.
Allowing products to go to waste like this is not new in this economic war. In 2003, for example, during the bosses lock-out and attempts to deprive the population of vital food supplies, milk producers dumped millions of gallons of milk into rivers to prevent it entering the retail food chain.
The government counter-offensive continues up and down the country, and now that certain “big fish” have been arrested it will no doubt make the perpetrators of this destabilization reflect a little.
The government will not fall as has been prophesied by radical opposition figures. At the same time, more and more people are aware that the problems are being caused by a conspiracy against the Venezuelan people rather than due to production lapses.
Currently, most products are available but you still have to look for them. The critical phase of lines everywhere, as seen at the beginning of the year, has now passed.
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