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Cablegate: Chavez Repeats Threats to Private Sector in Effort

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHCV #0174 0441639
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131639Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0587
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7680
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ FEB LIMA 0951
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2765
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS CARACAS 000174

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS TO AGRICULTURE ELECTRONICALLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON PGOV VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ REPEATS THREATS TO PRIVATE SECTOR IN EFFORT
TO END SHORTAGES

REF: A. .2007 CARACAS 404

B. CARACAS 86
C. CARACAS 102
D. CARACAS 141
E. CARACAS 152

1. (SBU) Summary: On January 31, the BRV published a decree
reforming the "Law Against Speculation and Hoarding," a 2007
decree that criminalized the hoarding and speculation of
regulated goods, reduced the legal barriers for
expropriations, and established harsh fines and jail time for
violators (Reftel A). The reformed "Anti-Speculation and
Hoarding Law" closely tracks a previous decree, but increases
the penalties for violators, adds undefined first-need goods
to those items covered by the law, criminalizes purchasing
controlled price goods for lucrative ends, and requires that
all producers, distributors, and importers submit any
operational information or documentation requested by the
BRV. The re-issuance of this decree intensifies pressure on
a private sector stifled by price controls, clearly reminding
them of the BRV's punitive power. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -
Chavez Tightens his Grip on the Private Sector
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) As detailed in ref A, Chavez' February 21, 2007 "Law
Against Speculation and Hoarding" criminalized the hoarding,
speculation, fraudulent altering of prices, boycott, and
exporting of controlled products produced for the domestic
market. These crimes were punishable by prison terms ranging
from 2-6 years and fines from 130-20,000 tax units
(approximately USD 2,800 to USD 428,000.) It also defined
all stages of the production cycle for regulated foods as
within the ambit of "public utility and the social interest,"
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