Man con­firmed dead fol­low­ing loot­ing of su­per­mar­ket in Venezuela: gover­nor

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

A man was killed and dozens were ar­rested Fri­day as a mob looted a su­per­mar­ket and other shops in an in­dus­trial Venezue­lan city, Bo­li­var state author­i­ties said.

In an­nounc­ing the loot­ing, Gov. Fran­cisco Ran­gel pushed back against op­po­nents of Venezuela’s so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment who at­trib­uted the un­rest to wide­spread scarci­ties of ba­sic goods across the oil-rich na­tion.

He said more than two dozen peo­ple were ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the loot­ing in the south­east­ern city of Ci­u­dad Guyana and added that there was no ex­cuse for the be­hav­ior. “No one is starv­ing,” he said.

Ran­gel also sug­gested to the tele­vi­sion sta­tion Globo­vi­sion that the loot­ing might have been driven by peo­ple with “po­lit­i­cal mo­tives.” Ten­sions are run­ning high in Venezuela as the coun­try gears up for De­cem­ber leg­isla­tive elec­tions.

Lo­cal news­pa­per Correo

del Ca­roni said the com­mo­tion, which cen­tered on four stroes, caused mer­chants to tem­po­rar­ily shut­ter nearby busi­nesses in fear they might be at­tacked, too.

Venezuela has been grap­pling with wors­en­ing short­ages of ba­sic goods like cook­ing oil and flour. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has adopted a va­ri­ety of mea­sures to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion and dis­cour­age hoard­ing, in­clud­ing fin­ger­print­ing shop­pers who buy food at sub­si­dized prices at su­per­mar­kets. Of­fi­cials also limit the days that peo­ple can buy cer­tain prod­ucts.

Few items are pro­duced lo­cally, and rigid cur­rency con­trols and a scarcity of U.S. dol­lars have made it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for Venezue­lans to find im­ported prod­ucts. Price con­trols don’t help ei­ther, with pro­duc­ers com­plain­ing that some goods are priced too low to make a profit and jus­tify pro­duc­tion.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion blames the short­ages both on com­pa­nies spec­u­lat­ing with an eye to­ward fu­ture prof­its and on black mar­ket ven­dors who buy gro­ceries at sub­si­dized prices and il­le­gally re­sell them for sev­eral times the amount.

The loot­ing came a day af­ter Venezuela’s largest food dis­trib­u­tor, Po­lar, protested a gov­ern­ment seizure of one of its ware­houses in Cara­cas and warned that any takeovers could ex­ac­er­bate sup­ply prob­lems.

The op­po­si­tion im­me­di­ately seized on the loot­ing in­ci­dent as a demon­stra­tion of how bad things have got­ten un­der the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Hen­rique Capriles, a for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who lost a close race with Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro in the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, said the loot­ing shows that short­ages have be­come dire in Venezuela.

“The far­ther you get from the cap­i­tal, the worse the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion is,” he said.

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