When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced last Tuesday the imposition of new price controls on a long list of consumer items, he expressed optimism that they would help curb inflation:
This is a law to protect the people from capitalism. We have a tough battle ahead [because] inflation is one of the biggest problems we have.
I’m at the front of this operation, and we’re going to occupy factories and companies. We’re going to nationalize what needs to be nationalized. The bourgeoisie hoard milk, sugar and cooking oil and then [they] blame me. But it’s their fault, the hoarders.
The citizens were smarter than Chavez. Having lived under a regime enforcing price controls on cooking oil and sugar with its natural and predictable resulting shortages, they looked at the list of household items about to be “fixed” and went shopping before the items disappeared. Evangelina Guerra, standing in line to get into the Dulcinea market in Caracas, said, “This is more regulation on top of regulation, and what we have is sky-high inflation and a lack of products.” In fact, cars were parked two rows deep and even onto the sidewalk in front of the store. Shelves normally full of toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper were being cleaned out faster than stockers could replenish them.
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