Venezuelan Dictatorship Seizes Immigrant-Owned Bakeries, Puts Socialists in Charge
More than 20 closed bakeries, 2 occupied by the government and 4 closed, is the balance that has been left by the new regimen of bakery inspections implemented by the regime of Nicolás Maduro at Caracas locales.
There are more than 700 bakeries in the Venezuelan capital; most of them have been the result of work and sacrifice of immigrants who have been working in Venezuela for more than thirty years and have prospered thanks to their skills.
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However, the regime undertook an audit that has not only created uncertainty in the country’s commercial sector, but has also has occupied at least two bakeries and left them in the hands of inexperienced chavistas and military.
Emilio Dos Santos, owner of the bakery Mansion’s Bakery, which was expropriated by the government, said that the place was taken over by criminals.
“They arrived to close the bakery for 90 days because there was supposedly no bread, but we were selling bread at the time. The state security apparatus closed it, kicked us out of the premises and now have some rascals attending the bakery,” he said.
The merchant, of Portuguese origin, said that the national superintendent of Fair Prices, William Contreras, arbitrarily entered the trade and threatened to close it. He pointed out that Contreras did not allow him to defend himself or justify himself during the intervention: “I was out of work,” he said.
Dos Santos said he had been working in the bakery for 25 years: “The people in the nearby buildings are with me. The only thing we ask is that the state return all bakeries to their owners.”
“State security hurt an immigrant family that had been working for decades in the country and also affected the community that for 25 years baked the bread in this place. These people, who we do not know who they are, are damaging the tradition,” he added.
Social networks have reported that one of the new bakery managers is a militant of the ruling party Jose Solorzano, who in 2004, was captured in photographs knocking down a statue of Christopher Columbus.
The bakeries in the South American country must not only face price controls, exchange controls, and the governmental monopoly on the importation of raw material, but are also obliged whether they “like it or not” to meet three requirements: continuous production, regulation of raw material, and verification of the legality of inputs.
In an interview with the PanAm Post, Víctor Maldonado, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Caracas explained that thanks to this threat of expropriation and the tightening of controls, at least 7,000 jobs are at risk in Caracas. With this new measure the government is on the path to driving bakeries out of business in the Caribbean country.
Maldonado commented that, like the rest of the companies that depend on imported raw material, what has happened is that the government has stopped importing wheat flour that is not produced in Venezuela.
It would take about one million tons of wheat flour a year to meet demand for bread and other products like pasta and crackers.
“The government monopolized the importation of all food products and everything that the government monopolizes ends up being a trap of inefficiency and corruption that is paid for by the consumer and collapses the companies,” he said.
The trade representative explained that the problem is that the daily bread (which is called “canilla” in Venezuela) is regulated at a price that can not offset the costs of production, costs that are impacted by sometimes having to acquire the flour at a disadvantageous price in dollars, paying higher prices to informal resellers.
He said that at this time 7,000 jobs linked to 700 bakeries in Caracas are in jeopardy, because the government is going to force exhaustion of supply inventories to give away bread at a price that is below the cost of production.