World

Maduro's crackdown on appliance stores may win key votes, but spurs uncertainty in Venezuela

  • Buyers wait in line to enter an appliance store in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. President Nicolas Maduro seized control of a nationwide chain of appliance stores Friday seeking to battle inflation and shortages. Shoppers were still arriving Monday to join the hundreds who began amassing over the weekend after price inspectors said they found evidence of "usury" and Maduro ordered the chain Tiendas Daka "occupation." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    Buyers wait in line to enter an appliance store in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. President Nicolas Maduro seized control of a nationwide chain of appliance stores Friday seeking to battle inflation and shortages. Shoppers were still arriving Monday to join the hundreds who began amassing over the weekend after price inspectors said they found evidence of "usury" and Maduro ordered the chain Tiendas Daka "occupation." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds up fist in solidarity at a transport workers rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. Maduro says he'll present evidence in the coming hours showing how the U.S. Embassy in Caracas is plotting to destabilize the South American nation. Maduro's announcement at a pro-government rally Tuesday comes after he vowed to extend price caps that have led to long lines of bargain hunters at appliance stores across the country in recent days. (AP Photo/Miraflores Presidential Office)

    In this photo provided by Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds up fist in solidarity at a transport workers rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. Maduro says he'll present evidence in the coming hours showing how the U.S. Embassy in Caracas is plotting to destabilize the South American nation. Maduro's announcement at a pro-government rally Tuesday comes after he vowed to extend price caps that have led to long lines of bargain hunters at appliance stores across the country in recent days. (AP Photo/Miraflores Presidential Office)  (The Associated Press)

Even by Venezuela's volatile standards, these are trying times.

Milk and vegetable oil have become scarce, the currency is plunging in a thriving black market and inflation is accelerating.

Amid so much unease, President Nicolas Maduro has settled on radical solutions. In recent days he's ordered the military to take over appliance stores, slash prices and encourage bargain hunters who've formed long lines across the country.

While the measures could help Maduro get over the hump of next month's mayoral votes, analysts say he risks cannibalizing the economy in the process.

Some now ask if the late President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution has reached a point of no return, where what little private investment is left vanishes completely and Maduro has no choice but to fully embrace a statist model.