Amid bread shortage, Venezuela seizes bakeries, arrests bakers

by WorldTribune Staff, March 17, 2017

The socialist government in Venezuela has accused bakers of creating a bread shortage as part of an “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the nation.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government has responded by arresting bakers and seizing their businesses.

A sign says ‘no bread’ at a Venezuelan bakery. /AFP

Maduro this week initiated what he called “Plan 700” against the “bread war,” ordering government officials to do spot checks of bakeries nationwide.

In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said the government had arrested and charged four bakers and temporarily seized two bakeries.

In a statement, the government said the bakers had been selling underweight bread and were using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants.

Venezuela price control czar William Contreras said 90 percent of baked goods are required to be price-controlled products. The government also said bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, or pan canilla, with government-imported flour.

Juan Crespo, the president of the Industrial Flour Union called Sintra-Harina, said Maduro’s plan isn’t going to solve the problem.

“The government isn’t importing enough wheat,” he said. “If you don’t have wheat, you don’t have flour, and if you don’t have flour, you don’t have bread.”

“The government is doing everything in its power to end the bread lines,” Crespo said, “but they’re looking at the whole thing backwards.”

“The bakeries are showing the authorities that they have no bread inventory,” he said. “The government has to see the reality.”

The notion that bread could become an issue in Venezuela is one more indictment of a socialist economic system “gone bust,” the Miami Herald noted in a March 16 report.

“The country boasts the world’s largest oil reserves but it has to import just about everything else. Facing a cash crunch, the government has dramatically cut back imports, sparking shortages, massive lines and fueling triple-digit inflation.”

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