On Wednesday, the Mansion’s Bakery in Caracas was “temporarily” expropriated by regime inspectors after they allege to have observed infractions in the establishment’s operations that day. The expropriation – one of two that day in Caracas – is part of Maduro’s “Plan 700”, a new initiative he claims will result in bakeries meeting demand for bread.
El Nacional reported today that despite the supposedly temporary nature of the expropriation, the bakery now sports a new sign: “Minka”. The establishment is now under the control of a Comite Local de Abastecimiento y Produccion (CLAP) [Local Supply and Production Committee], which is supposed to oversee its operation for a period of 90 days.
A sign on the front door reads the bread that is being removed in bags from the establishment will be re-distributed to those citizens who receive CLAP bags in the following areas: Cuartel Miraflores, Jardin Miraflores, Nisia Jacinta and Victoria Altagracia.
It is not clear why the CLAP tasked with overseeing the bakery’s operation decided to close it today, or if it even plans to actually run the establishment.
Uncertainty, Anger After Bakery Expropriations
Jose Matias, a resident of the neighbourhood in which Mansion’s Bakery is located, told El Nacional that a colectivo armado [a pro-government armed group] arrived at the bakery last night. Matias claims that the colectivo threatened the people who were lined up at the bakery and attempted to intimidate them into leaving.
El Nacional writes that an individual who was speaking to the crowd outside of the bakery today said:
We don’t have bread because we’re cleaning up.
However, after observing CLAP members carrying merchandise out of the bakery through a side door, an employee by the name of Ramona Morillo said:
What they’re doing is eating all the merchandise. They’re taking everything away in trucks.
Morillo was also recorded on video speaking on the matter, which I’ve translated below:
Reporter: … the bakery, and what happened today?
Morillo: They [the CLAP inspectors] went into the bakery and they said that they would close it and they won’t let us work.
Reporter: And have they given you your wages?
Morillo: No, we haven’t even gotten paid.
Reporter: So they kicked you out and they won’t tell you anything?
Morillo: Right. They said they’d pay us, but who know if that’s true.
Reporter: How many of the workers are here today?
Morillo: Look over there [pointing]. All of those people there are workers. They wouldn’t let us go in yesterday.
Reporter: What do you think about this expropriation?
Morillo: They have to give this back to its owner, and that’s my boss. He’s my boss no matter what. I support him! I support my boss! I want to work for them. They’re Portuguese.
Reporter: What do you think about all of this?
Morillo: This is wrong! They’re eating everything in there, and they’re taking it away in trucks. They’re taking everything away. At 6:30 PM they sent out another truck full of bread.
Reporter: They’re taking things and they’re not offering any solutions to anything, or to anyone in the community?
Morillo: [inaudible] to the CLAP, and they’re not selling the bread. They’re taking it out in bags.
Another employee who chose to remain anonymous told El Nacional that when she showed up for work at the bakery on Wednesday, a colectivo armado threatened to arrest her. The same worker told the newspaper that none of the employees have heard anything from the bakery’s owner since Monday.
Andri Armado, another of the bakery’s employees, gave the newspaper his opinion on the expropriation:
The process of [of expropriation] was horrible. It hit us really hard because this is our place of work. This won’t solve the scarcity. We used to sell 18 bags of bread here every day starting at 8:00 AM.
OAS to Meet on Venezuelan Crisis on Tuesday
The Organization of American States (OAS) will meet on Tuesday to debate the ongoing Venezuelan crisis, marking this year’s first such meeting by the organization.
El Nacional reports that a number of Venezuelan NGOs, including Provea and the Venezuelan Penal Forum will speak at the meeting, and that the event will conclude with a question and answer period.
The meeting comes a week after Secretary General Luis Almagro called for Venezuela’s suspension from the organization unless it hold general elections “as soon as possible“.
Maduro Extends Life of Bs. 100 Bill for 5th Time
Speaking in his La Hora de la Salsa [Salsa Hour] television show today, Maduro announced that he was extending the life of the Bs. 100 until April 20 of this year, marking the 5th time that the bill has been granted a new lease on life.
Maduro first announced that the Bs. 100 bill would go out of circulation within 72 hours on December 11 of last year. The announcement sent shockwaves of panic throughout the country, resulting in widespread looting and chaos.
During his announcement today, Maduro suggested that the original December 11 deadline was the result of “an attack against our currency” that was taking place at the time.
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