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LatinNews Regional Monitor: Andean Group - 08 January 2018

In brief: Venezuela

Venezuela: On 6 January, Venezuela’s national consumer protection agency (Sundde) ordered 26 supermarket chains to lower the prices of foodstuffs and basic goods, claiming that the prices of these products were unduly high. This sparked some public unrest as people flocked to supermarkets to try to purchase products that have been beyond reach due to the hyperinflation afflicting Venezuela, and in some instances this led to confrontations between shoppers and even the looting of some supermarkets. Sundde’s actions were criticised by the national council of retailers (Consecomercio), which warned that the shortage of basic goods in the country would only be exacerbated as supermarkets have had their stocks depleted, and they will not be able to buy more goods as they are unable to make a profit with the enforced low prices. Meanwhile, the opposition-controlled national assembly denounced Sundde’s move as being part of the government’s “systematic plan for social control” following the anti-government protests registered in the final days of 2017 in rejection of food shortages, and warned about the potential for more social unrest in coming weeks as the economic crisis drags on.