With its people resorting to eating flamingoes, the Venezuelan government has decided to find yet another thing to blame for the collapse of the socialist utopia - the bakers!
As The BBC reports, the Venezuelan government says it will expropriate bakeries which fail to abide by new government regulations aimed at tackling bread shortages.
In a growing row between the government and bakers, officials said that bakeries could face fines if people had to queue to get their bread. Severe shortages of basic goods mean that Venezuelans often have to queue for hours to buy essential items.
The government says the shortages are caused by an "economic war".
Venezuela does not produce wheat and relies on imports bought in by the government which it then sends to mills where it is ground and then distributed.
The government blames bakers for the bread shortages, accusing them of using the flour allocated to them to bake pastries rather than simple baguette-style bread in order to maximise their profits.
Croissants and other sweet baked goods are more expensive than baguettes and French-style breads, as the prices for the latter are controlled by the socialist government.
So the government has decided that more price controls will fix the problem and has unveiled new rules for bakers...
- Use 90% of flour to bake savoury bread and only 10% for pastries and cakes
- Provide a constant supply of bread throughout the day from 07:00 to 19:00
- Ensure next day's supply by holding over bread from the previous day
And the rules will be strictly enforced...
On Sunday, President Nicolas Maduro announced that inspectors would be sent to 709 bakeries in the capital, Caracas, to ensure they were complying with the new rules.
He said that those "speculators who hide the bread from the people will face the weight of the law".
"They're going to pay, I swear. Those responsible for the bread war are going to pay and they better not complain that it was a political persecution," he added.
Vice-President Tareck El Aissami warned that "bakeries which do not follow [the rules] will be occupied by the government".
As The Miami Herald notes, two bakeries were already 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 four, 30-ton boats of wheat every month to cover basic demand.
The notion that bread could become an issue in Venezuela is yet another indictment of a socialist economic system gone bust.