The Plan Feliz Navidades [Merry Christmas Plan] kicked off today with Superintendent of Fair Prices Andres Eloy Mendez ordering an 81% reduction in Barbie Doll prices at General Import stores.
The Plan is a government initiative aimed at maintaining prices of consumer goods low so that they might be purchased for the upcoming Christmas season. Starting yesterday, 27,500 government inspectors were given instructions to inspect stores throughout the country to ensure what the government calls “fair prices”.
The dramatic price reduction was announced after an investigation into the store’s prices found that, according to Mendez, the dolls were being sold at too high a price. Similar inspections took place at 331 stores throughout the country.
On the case of the Barbie dolls, Mendez said:
The Plan Feliz Navidades is bearing fruit. We will not allow store owners to speculate and play with the salaries and Christmas bonuses of the people. We have to defend those salaries.
According to Mendez, an inspection of a General Import store found that Barbie dolls were being sold for Bs. 2,999, or $476.45 at the official rate. Mendez ordered the price lowered to Bs. 553, which is approximately $85.
Measures Will Not Work, Critics Say
The president of the Caracas Chamber of Commerce, Victor Maldonado, spoke about the inspections and said that he does not believe they will work to counteract the effects of inflation and scarcity. Maldonado explained:
In Venezuela, there is a huge confidence crisis (…) [businesses] do not trust the government’s economic policies and they do not trust the government’s ability to solve these problems. Experience tells us that these types of measures [result in] empty shelves, scarcity or [complete lack of stock] and closed businesses.
Woman Arrested over Twitter Comments
Maria Magaly Contreras, 55, was arrested on Monday on charges of instigation and public intimidation over tweets sent through her Twitter account. Her arrest marks the 7th time a Venezuelan has been arrested over messages sent through the social media website.
Contreras, who claims to be clairvoyant, has nearly 7,000 Twitter followers, and lived in Maracaibo, Zulia. While it is unclear exactly which messages the government took issue with, her last three tweets read:
BE CAREFUL WITH THE DRINKING WATER, IT’S COMING OUT DIRTY [and] YELLOWISH [and] MUDDY, IT’S CONTAMINATED AND BRINGS DISEASE, BOIL IT.
money can no longer buy happiness Structural collapses are happening more often, a great awakening, to be liberated from chains.
GOD PROTECTS AND TAKES CARE OF THE WORLD FROM THE EBOLA VIRUS, IT’S ALREADY SPREADING AROUND THE WORLD, I’M WARNING THE UNITED STATES, THE U.S., SPAIN, AND AFRICA……
Contreras also claimed to predict another nation-wide power outage and a “strong earthquake”.
Contreras was arrested by SEBIN agents in Maracaibo, and was translated to their headquarters in Caracas yesterday.