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Chavez Closes Stores as Promised

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez promised that he would close stores that engaged in price gouging following the currency devaluation earlier this month. In the last two weeks, after 2,500 stores were investigated, 1,500 of them were closed. The French chain Exito was nationalized for alleged price speculation, prompting growing fear that international investors will be reluctant to invest in the South American nation where, according to Ismael Perez Vigil, head of the largest Venezuelan industrial chamber, “at any moment and on any whim . . . a business can simply be expropriated.” This large scale nationalization comes at a critical time for Venezuela as reports indicate that the country may have much larger oil reserves than previously thought.

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