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Crumbs: Venezuelan government arrests flaky bakers for making brownies and pastries

Chocolate brownie display
Deb Lindsey | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Chocolate brownie display

The Venezuelan government has threatened to take over bakeries which don't comply with new bread laws imposed to tackle the country's food shortage.

President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government has accused bakers of causing bread shortages and vowed to crack down on those who defy its regulations on production after citizens have been going hungry.

Already this week, the government has arrested four bakers for making illegal brownies and pastries with flour it says must be designated for savoury bread products, according to Reuters reports.

"They're going to pay, I swear," President Maduro said earlier this week, according to Reuters. "Those responsible for the bread war are going to pay and they better not complain that it was a political persecution."

President Maduro sent inspectors to more than 700 bakeries around the capital Caracas this week to enforce a rule which stipulates that 90 percent of the country's flour reserves must be used for savoury bread products, rather than sweet pastries and cakes.

Venezuela does not produce its own flour and imports are bought by the government before being distributed among bakeries.

The government claims that bakers are breaking the rule to make more expensive sweet products, such as croissants and brownies, and thereby giving their profits a rise.

However, Fevipan, the group representing Venezuelan bakers, denies the accusations and argues that the government has failed to ensure bakeries are sufficiently stocked.

The group wrote on Twitter Tuesday that 80 percent of bakeries are without flour and 20 percent have received just 10 percent of their monthly supply.

Fevipan has since gained support from social media after adopting the #TodosSomosPanaderos – 'We are all bakers' – hash tag and has requested urgent meetings with government.

Venezuela is currently undergoing its worst economic crisis in decades with inflation at 500 percent and rising.

As one of the world's largest oil exporters, the country was hit hard by the fall in oil prices in 2014 and has since struggled to uphold the economy, leading to food and water shortages and wide rioting.