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. Maduro, who has staked his presidency on preserving the legacy of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, launched a theatrical – and often televised – wave of inspections this month to force companies to reduce prices. He says “capitalist parasites” are trying to wreck Venezuela’s economy and force him from office. Opponents scoff at the measures as cheap and short-term populism that is hiding the failure of Venezuela’s socialist economic model and intended to win votes at an upcoming poll. Economic […]