Caracas, August 18th 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A week into an operation closing Venezuela’s 2,200 km border with Colombia between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., officials in the Venezuelan government have noted positive results in the prevention of contraband sales.
“The positive effects are already beginning to be felt in border states,” Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza wrote Sunday on twitter, adding that the National Armed Bolivarian Forces (Fanb) had been fully deployed at checkpoints throughout the country.
In the largest cases observed so far, the Fanb detained boats containing 5,500 liters of fuel and 5.2 tons of meat along the Limón River and Guajira Peninsula, both in Zulia, one of several western states bordering Colombia.
The discoveries add to an estimated 96 tons of food and 58,300 liters of diesel fuel and gasoline retained by authorities in Zulia alone.
According to the Venezuelan government, up to 40% of basic food items and gasoline subsidized by the Venezuelan government are illegally brought across the border to sell at inflated prices. The contraband sales cause an estimated net loss of $3.65 billion USD, along with shortages in basic goods throughout Venezuela.
One of the effects of the shortages are long queues in both public and private supermarkets, a problem Andrés Eloy Méndez, head of the country’s Fair Prices commission, discussed publically over the weekend.
Méndez noted that 74 supermarkets had been inspected recently, with the goal of ensuring “fair, effective, efficient and uninterrupted service.” On Saturday he met with representatives from various stores and pharmacies regarding the implementation of a biometric system to maintain products in stock and the activation of all cash registers at stores. During the inspections, officials observed that in many cases only half of all registers at stores functioned at a given time.
Though Méndez did not announce any direct measures coming out of the meeting, he said that inspections would continue throughout the country.
“We will honor the legacy of the gigante (Hugo Chávez) and the order of President Nicolás Maduro in defense of the rights of the people,” he said.