Venezuela’s nationwide municipal elections are just over a week away, and Nicolas Maduro — Hugo Chavez’s personally selected successor, as Maduro is excessively fond of vehemently reminding people — is putting his new ’emergency’ decree powers to work to continue to fight against the “economic war” that his political opponents and imperial foreign powers are waging in concert against him. Or, at least, the economic war Maduro is pretending that these shady forces are waging against him, the better to contrive an outside enemy responsible for Venezuela’s deep-seated economic troubles rather than naming the country’s socialist system of price controls and top-down intervention as the true culprit. Via Reuters:

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said a stricter wave of inspections for suspected price-gouging would begin on Saturday in an aggressive pre-election “economic offensive” aimed at taming the highest inflation in the Americas.

“We’re not joking, we’re defending the rights of the majority, their economic freedom,” Maduro said on Friday, alleging price irregularities were found in nearly 99 percent of 1,705 businesses inspected so far this month. …

He says “capitalist parasites” are trying to wreck Venezuela’s economy and force him from office. …

“The inspections are continuing daily and have let us see into the under-world of capitalism,” Maduro said in his latest speech to the nation, warning of severe sanctions starting Saturday against businesses maintaining unjustifiably high prices. …

These highly theatrical and often televised inspections are certainly exposing the seedy underworld of something, but it ain’t capitalism. The Venezuelan government has given out different figures, but something between 30 and 100 business owners have already been arrested for charging what the Maduro regime has deemed are excessive prices, and who knows what other bizarre, concocted spectacles Venezuelans are in for this week; on top of stepping in to punish the whopping 99 businesses apparently guilty of economic conspiracy against the general populace, Maduro also announced a new raft of financial and rent-control measures, which he mistakenly supposes will be some sort of economic boon for the country rather then sending it spinning even further out of control:

Maduro also announced on Friday a new decree to limit monthly rents for commercial properties, to 250 bolivars ($40) per square meter, in a bid to reduce costs passed to consumers.

And in another populist move, the president said interest rates for savers on low incomes would be hiked to 16 percent, from 12.5 percent currently.

It’s almost like he doesn’t understand basic economics, or something.