Alfredo spends countless hours going around the city in search of low prices and short lines, like so many caraqueños. For bread and pastries, though, he never had to go far: Mansion’s Bakery is just two blocks away from his house, right on Av. Baralt downtown. It’s his top choice. “I don’t know how they do it, they’re incredible. They have the best prices, amazing service, and they’re absolutely adored by the community”, he says.

Under Maduro’s rule, of course, running such a successful private venture means you’re looking for trouble. The bakery is now occupied by José Solórzano, a dude most famous for vandalizing and bringing down a statue of Cristóbal Colón. Solórzano claims to speak for the “free producers of bread” (free not as in freedom or beer, but as chavista newspeak for “forced”). I called Alfredo to ask how things got to this point.

Under Maduro’s rule, running a successful private venture means you’re looking for trouble.

Trouble started at least a year ago. Miraflores employees, mostly armed guards, occasionally went into Mansion’s, demanded bags full of bread, and hauled them in their SUVs without paying a dime. Atracadores de pan, pues. Emilio, the plump, affable portu who’s been managing the store, standing at the register every day for over 25 years, just had to suck it up. Cost of doing business sortathing.

But the situation got worse. Just last month, Alfredo saw national guardsmen sitting down for lunch, ordering food that costs much more than simple loaves of bread, then simply leaving without paying. That level of cara ‘e tabla. They then loudly complained about prices and threatened to denounce them to SUNDDE, the price control enforcement agency.

“I really don’t understand the fixation with this one bakery”, says Alfredo. “There are many others in the area that are way more expensive and don’t sell plain bread as often. Mansion’s was the one bakery in the area where you get friendly service, a safe heaven from the malandreo. This was the store where the local guy with Down Syndrome came asking for bread and the clerks patiently explained, day in and day out, that he needed to wait till 4 pm. Other places? He was rushed out without a second glance.”

Foto: Francisco Bruzco – Cronico.Uno

Then, on Wednesday last week, Alfredo found Mansion’s closed without any advance notice. “Strange”, he thought, “maybe they ran out of flour?” But there was no sign posted. Regular customers, most of them past their 50’s, were visibly frustrated and hungry: used to surviving on this bakery’s Bs.600 loaves, they just couldn’t afford to go the one across the street that sells only Bs.8,000 pizzas.

The following day, SUNDDE announced it was going to take over the bakery as part of their “90-day temporary occupations.” This is, as we know, more chavista newspeak, because on Saturday night Alfredo saw some people busy defacing the storefront and painting a picture of Simón Bolívar on a wall. Ahora es del pueblo.

Only el pueblo wasn’t going to stand for it this time. Emilio and the bakery’s workers began protesting against the seizure. This panadería is so well-loved around the neighborhood, Alfredo assures me, that dozens of people took to the streets to join the cause, an impressive feat in a place just three blocks away from Miraflores and the epicenter of the state’s repressive might. Some people were quick to wonder if this could mark the beginning of el zaperoco. Today, though, the demonstrations have wound down. Many were too afraid to take part after witnessing the usual deployment of colectivos from La Pastora and 23 de enero, thugs surrounded and empowered by squads of national guardsmen.

Solórzano, the vandal-turned-bread-liberator, told the neighbors that things had changed: they were going to make sure the bakery used 90% of its flour for plain bread, and that every single canilla would weigh 180 grams. Well, what we are sure of is that short of some very generous government subsidies and impressive management skills, Mansion’s Bakery is going bankrupt in the very near future.

It’s a damn shame.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Nice report, but..

    “Under Maduro’s rule”;

    For some awkward reasons, people keep blaming just one imbecile bastard for all the problems of an entire country of 30 M people.

    Hopefully, one day, they will begin to comprehend that there are THOUSANDS of thieves behind Vzla’s disaster. If not more. Crooks, thieves, complicit with that regime, stealing every day. Hundreds of thousands, probably.

    Maduro is just a monkey. Venezuela’s problems run much deeper, into their own, corrupt society, at all levels.

    Dare to publish this, CCS..Hasta los motorizados estan metidos en algun GUISO, al igual que medianos y altos “ejecutivos”. That’s the fact, jack.

    Repito: Maduro o Cabello, y hasta Tarek son unos pendejos. Los que de verdad Roban forman parte del mismo “pueblo” Venezolano.

    Now publish that.. Not holding my breath..

    • Moral relativism is a hell of a fucking drug, worst is most of those people will NEVER face any repercussion, ever, culture has made it so, they’ll just be bundled together with the people who did what they could to survive, of those there are plenty but most of them aren’t enchufados, the ones that are have no care whatsoever to the damage or pain they’re causing to their fellow men or women or even child.

      Chavismo’s biggest damage to venezuela will always be the complete destruction of whatever sense of community we had, the worst kind of individualism took over and it ain’t leaving soon.

    • “…people keep blaming just one imbecile…”

      It’s the complete opposite, people keep blaming everybody for the problems caused by just a handful of imbeciles.

      • Agree with Cayr and Ulamog.

        And anybody saying that Maduro’s just a monkey and Diosdado and Tareck are just “pendejos” really has perspective issues.

  2. As the Poeta said, and paraphrasing Bill Clinton on the campaign trail, “It’s the People, Stupid.” The moral rot is deep and pervasive, worse now that there are virtually no non-avoidable punitive sanctions for rape/stealing/kidnapping/murder. Venezuela has the worst of all possible worlds–a repressive, completely corrupt Communist-led Government, coupled with unbridled crime/violence, which, at least, is strictly controlled in other Communist states, such as Cuba. As for the panaderias, the Govt. has assigned 100 lower-level enchufados to receive all equipment/installations necessary to install “panaderias populares”, to sell price-regulated bread–which probably means: many times over-pricing on the equipment; a large percentage not being installed with the money stolen; and, those finally installed, lasting only a short time as they receive insufficient wheat/maintenance, their owners produce an inferior product and are not willing to begin work at the 4 A.M. required workday start, with the resulting closure of the panaderias, sale of their equipment at fire-sale prices, and the enchufados pocketing the proceeds….

    • “… there are virtually no non-avoidable punitive sanctions for rape/stealing/kidnapping/murder.”

      Thanks to the regime, Chávez first and now Maduro.

    • I really don’t know what you’re saying, NET. Who are these 100 lower-level enchufados you speak of? How can you possibly have any data to support this if the government has only very recently began cracking down on bakeries?

      • How can I?–Because I KNOW ONE, and he’s a family member–now, if the Govt. really comes through, or not, as promised, that’s another story….

          • I get where your coming from, but point me to 1 well managed and succesfull enterprise that was backed from inception by the Gov?, and if you add the fact that most of these oportunities are given to some “pobre diablo” who knows jack shit about what they’re supposed to do.

  3. Also, nobody’s mentioned that a lot of the people protesting there was from the infamous “Oeste”, that so-called “Chavista stronghold of pueblo mejmo”, and that the colectivos were whining like piglets because the GNB didn’t arrive fast enough to back them up against the “savage blonde snob fascists”

    As EVERY show of dissention in the current Venezuela, if it gets swept under the rug (As it is claiming the idiocy that “It’s not political, wwwaaaaaaahhhhhh!”), chavismo will last a little longer.

    In fact, this year is going to be really shitty for the people:

    Shortages in food.

    Shortage of medicines.

    A trimester plagued by blackouts.

    And now who knows how much more time with gasoline shortage and thus public transport shortage.

    All of this while the international community is not complying with every single lie puked by the regime.

    Now you see that this year will be shitty for the regime too, the traitors might only delay the inevitable.

  4. No existe un liderazgo que quiera la salida de Maduro.
    La gente sola puede protestar todo lo que quiera, pero sin un liderazgo y sin una organización detrás, eso no va a tener ningún efecto.
    Como no queremos aceptar que nuestro supuesto liderazgo actual no está interesado en la salida de Maduro, sino en su permanencia (o peor:la permanencia del sistema que él representa), entonces ni siquiera damos el primer paso hacia la creación de un movimiento que de verdad pueda convertir el descontento de la gente en algo positivo.
    Los que están interesados en la permanencia de Maduro dentro de la oposición intentan lavarse la cara de mil maneras, e incluso intentan hacer sentir mal a quien sí quiere la salida de Maduro y sí quiere un cambio profundo de sistema. Atacan la inteligencia y la moral de la resistencia sistemáticamente desde hace tres años, e invirtiendo una fortuna en propaganda para ello. Y detrás de esos ataques que intentan justificar intelectualmente y moralmente, lo que hay es un simple conflicto de intereses, y un desprecio absoluto por los sectores populares y medios.
    Actualmente existen todas las condiciones necesarias para acabar con el chavismo sin armas, sin terrorismo. Lo único que mantiene con vida a Maduro es la falta de voluntad de las élites venezolanas, que son tan corruptas y tan mediocres (hay que decirlo), que prefieren seguir siendo parasitarias y rentistas, antes que asumir su responsabilidad histórica e ingresar al mundo real de la competitivad y la producción. Me da dolor con los panaderos, ellos están perdiendo todo su trabajo de décadas porque hay una élite corrupta que mantiene a Maduro en el poder, que no produce nada, y que luego se llena la boca hablando de radicales y de antipolítica.

  5. Would be interesting to see a follow up on this story and learn how the bakery is doing, in terms of output, in two or three weeks after take over by the gov. Ironically, while the private owner were disparaged for making enough profit to stay open, the new workers will invariably be out to make as much as they can from every transaction. The great lie here is that for-profit work is ridiculed by socialist stooges, yet the same stooges are eventually in it only for the money. But instead of actually working for it, they only want to steal it or scam it or take what belongs to others and pay nothing for it. One wonders how much longer such insanity can last. I’m thinking on so long as the bonds go unpaid net time around and there’s still money to import some little raw materials.

  6. I remember several panaderias in CCS, usually run by hard working Portuguese people, good folks.. the quality of the fresh, hot bread was superb.. and you could get many other delicious treats, from the classic cachito de jamon con un marroncito, to jamon serrano and other cold meats, or canned, imported products, delicacies too. We used to go almost every day, and actually hang out there, they had tables and chairs outside, excellent service. It was actually the place to meet with friends..That’s one of the things I miss from Caracas.. the amazing panaderias.

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