Let them not eat cake.
That's by decree of the government of Venezuela which is cracking down on bakers using commodoties in short supply to whip up whimsical, yet non-essential, sweets.
On Thursday, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights announced in a press release that four people had been charged and two bakeries had been seized, accused of being part of an “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country, the Miami Herald reported.
Two of the men were arrested for using too much wheat in sweet bread, ham-filled croissants and other products, according to The Guardian. The other two were detained for making brownies with out-of-date wheat.
Officials say bakers have been abusing the South American nation’s price-regulated imported wheat to produce addictive goods like brownies, cakes, sweet rolls and croissants. Some are even said to be baking cookies.
All of these goods are being produced in flagrant violation of a Venezuelan law that says bakeries are only allowed to use their allotment of imported wheat to make French bread and simple white loaves (known as "pan canilla" in the country).
Naysayers who support unlimited recreational use of baked products say none of this would be a problem if Venezuela had the dough to buy more wheat. The economy has gone to seed in the socialist nation, which has to import just about every product but oil. Desperately strapped for cash, the government has severely cut imports, resulting in triple-digit inflation, shortages and massive lines like the ones decent, hardworking citizens have been forming outside the country’s many bakeries.
Now Venezuela is fighting back. Last week, President Nicolás Maduro ordered government inspectors and soldiers to do spot checks of more than 700 bakeries to ensure that 90 percent of wheat was used only for bread-making, The Guardian reported.
“Those behind the ‘bread war’ are going to pay, and don’t let them say later it is political persecution,” Maduro warned.
The government also seized two bakeries for 90 days for allegedly breaking numerous rules, including selling bread for more than the government-controlled price.
But arresting bakers and seizing bakeries won’t solve the problem, said Juan Crespo, president of Sintra-Harina, the Industrial Flour Union.
The solution, he said, is four 30,000-ton boats of wheat every month.
“The government isn’t importing enough wheat,” Crespo told The Herald. “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, but they’re looking at the whole thing backwards.”