Venezuela: Popularity of state food stores rises

August 28, 2010

One of Venezuela’s state-run food supply networks increased by 70% its sales in July, Edward Ellis reported in the Correo del Orinoco International on August 13.

Ellis said commerce minister Richard Canan told Venezuelan television program Desperto Venezuela of a record income for the Bicentennial Markets, which took in a total of US$56.5 million in July.

Ellis said Canan, a member of socialist President Hugo Chavez’s government, reported a 2.1 million people visited the markets in July, an increase of 35%.

The Bicentennial food markets were formed after the Chavez government nationalised two private supermarket chains, Exito and Cada.

Ellis said: “The now state-run markets form part of the Venezuelan government’s food sovereignty strategy intended to secure a steady supply of basic food items for the nation’s population at affordable prices.”

Canan told viewers: “Venezuela is no longer subject to the monopoly of private businesses. The average [savings] for the basic food bundle is around 30%. There are some products ... which reach a savings of 50 to 60% compared with capitalist markets.”

Many of the products sold in the food chains come from government-owned processing plants. Ellis also said a “process of democratisation and community involvement has also taken place at the point of sale”.

Canan reported that communal councils — grassroots neighborhood organisations — are operating 34 outlets belonging to the Bicentennial Market network.

“This includes the carrying out of a planning process to evaluate the specific needs of the community and then fulfill those needs through the organized distribution of required food items”, Ellis wrote.

Elections to Venezuela’s National Assembly are scheduled for September 26. An August 17 article said polls indicated the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), headed by Chavez, is on track to win a large majority.

The US-backed right-wing opposition is grouped in the United Democratic Roundtable (MUD). said: “Both blocs have focused their campaigns on either approving or disapproving of President Hugo Chavez and his project of building ‘21st Century Socialism’.” reported the Ultimas Noticias editor Eleazar Diaz Rangel said a recent voter opinion poll by Datanalisis, considered to be sympathetic to the opposition and private business interests, indicated the PSUV is likely to win 124 seats in the 167-seat assembly, while the opposition is likely to win 41.

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