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A shopper carries his newly-purchased microwave oven as he leaves an appliance store in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. President Nicolas Maduro in recent days ordered the military to take over appliance stores, slashing prices, leading bargain hunters to form block-long lines across the country. The populist measures seem designed to help Maduro's party get over the hump of next month's mayoral vote, its first electoral test since the president narrowly defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles in April. But while the measures apparently are popular with voters, Maduro runs the risk of cannibalizing an already damaged economy.(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela business crackdown

President Nicolas Maduro has promised to step up a pre-election "economic offensive" that has seen hundreds of Venezuelan businesses inspected for price gouging and crowds flocking to shops to take advantage of state-ordered discounts.


Since the weekend, soldiers and government inspectors have gone into 1,400 shops, taken over operations at an electronics firm and a battery-making company, begun prosecutions of nearly 30 retail managers, and also rounded up a handful of looters. (Reuters)