‘Bread War’ breaks out in Venezuela

After living through shortages of water, electricity, medicine, banknotes and beer, Venezuelans are now struggling to find one of the most basic foodstuffs of all, unleashing what President Nicolas Maduro has dubbed the “Bread War.”

Bread has become all but impossible to find at many Venezuelan bakeries, which say Mr. Maduro’s socialist government is not importing enough flour for them to make it.

Not so, Mr. Maduro insists and accuses bakeries of hoarding flour to destabilize his government and using it in expensive cakes and pastries rather than cheap, subsidized bread.

Mr. Maduro, whose popularity has plummeted amid a crushing three-year recession, has dispatched the army, police and uniformed civilian militias to escort officials from the National Superintendency for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights in a wave of bakery inspections.

“They are hiding the bread from the people,” the President said Sunday on his weekly TV program, vowing to crack down on greedy bakers.

“They are going to pay for this, I swear. Those responsible for the Bread War will pay. And don’t go around calling it ‘political persecution.’”

This week the authorities arrested four people in the crackdown and confiscated two bakeries accused of charging more than the…