At a popular east Caracas bakery, customers can buy Spanish olive oil, Italian tomato sauce and even American chocolates. But bread? Forget it.
Cardboard signs on the door warning of “No bread” have become increasingly common at Venezuelan bakeries.
Venezuela gets 96 percent of its foreign currency from oil exports, and as crude prices have plunged, so have the country’s imports — among them wheat.
The leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has tightly controlled access to hard currency, and this has affected imports ranging from medicine to toilet paper. Now it is seriously affecting imports of wheat, which Venezuela does not grow.
Add to this the soaring inflation rate — 181 percent in 2015, the world’s highest — and you see why customers are mainly interested in buying basic food items such as bread.