Venezuelan President Orders ‘Occupation’ of Chain Stores

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the “occupation” of a chain of electronics stores after the socialist government accused the company of overcharging its consumers.

Troops went to the Daka chain’s five stores and ordered the company to start selling its products at lower prices, Reuters reported. Several managers of the company were arrested.

Maduro pledged in a speech Friday to sell off the chain’s entire inventory of goods for a “fair price,” the BBC reported.

“We’re doing this for the good of the nation,” he announced, according to the BBC. “Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses!”

The proclamation lured hundreds of thrifty shoppers to hustle to Daka shops over the weekend in search of bargains, snatching up heavily discounted merchandise.

Maduro, the chosen successor of longtime Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez, has been dealing with a raft of problems, including soaring inflation, blackouts and scarce supplies of necessities such as flour.

The action against the Daka chain is just the latest effort by the president to cast his government as a defender of the people against the U.S. and rich businessmen who he says are waging an “economic war” against Venezuela.

In September, Maduro expelled three U.S. Embassy officials, accusing them of conspiring with extreme-right-wing elements to destabilize the country. In response, the U.S. expelled a top Venezuelan diplomat and two other embassy officials.