What is the worst thing you can do if you’re a baker and there is a shortage of bread to feed the masses because the government has failed? Why you decided to bake some donuts for those that can still afford them in the face of skyrocketing inflation of course. But doing so not only makes you a greedy capitalist, it makes you an enemy of the state and an easy fall guy to blame all the country’s problems on.
That is the dilemma facing the bakers in Venezuela, where inflation is making the money worthless, and the socialist government is looking for anyone to blame except themselves. As a result, they have started to round up many of the country’s bakers and confiscating their bakeries and shops.
Currently the country is facing a bread shortage that is spawning massive lines and souring the national mood. So the government has decided to take action by detaining bakers and seizing establishments. A solution that is making a bad situation even worse.
But in a press release today, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights defended its action saying it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries. The reason? The socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.
The government said the bakers were selling underweight bread and were using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants. Damned Capitalists. The government went on to say that bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, with government-imported flour.
But on Thursday, price control czar William Contreras said only 90 percent of baked goods had to be price-controlled products, which only added to the confusion. In addition two other bakeries were also seized for 90 days for breaking a number of rules, including selling overpriced bread.
Juan Crespo, the president of the Industrial Flour Union called Sintra-Harina, which represents 9,000 bakeries nationwide, said the government’s heavy hand 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.”
He said the country needs 120 tons of wheat every month to cover basic demand. Currently the government is importing less than 100 tons. After over 2 decades of Socialist rule, the Venezuelan economic system has gone bust. Some thing that can only be blamed on the totalitarian rule since the country has the world’s largest oil reserves. But due to poor government and corruption, it has to import just about everything else.
The current cash crunch has forced the government to cut back imports, sparking shortages, massive lines and triple-digit inflation. President Nicolás Maduro launched “Plan 700” against what he called a “bread war,” ordering officials to do spot checks of bakeries. The plan does not allow people to stand in line for bread, but doesn’t say how it will enforce the order.