Banjo Grill, the empanada stand that served Maria Corina Machado, and chavismo harassed

Maria Corina Machado poses with workers and diners of Pancho Grill in Coroso Panto, Curico, Venezuela, on May 24.

Ever since the Seniot Hernandez sisters closed their business, they haven't stopped working. Chavismo's punishment by its tax agency on a small roadside business that sold breakfast last week to Maria Corina Machado's crew during a tour of Venezuela's lowland states turned into a blessing for the four sisters in the town of Coroso Panto. , in particular, more than 400 empanadas were sold as the story of the experienced autocracy went viral and unleashed a wave of solidarity.

Florentonia Singer /

Pancho Grill doesn't even have social media. Before that, they saw hours go by without a single sale amid Venezuela's years-long economic crisis. They saw cars coming that day. “We had six empanadas waiting on the heater, waiting for someone to come sell them, and we saw several cars together, and we thought it was the government,” Corina Hernandez, 44, the establishment's main cook, says by phone.

That's Machado with his team. Along with the 14 breakfasts they sold, the footage of the authorities closing down the establishment an hour after the political leader passed and the virality of the story, they already have more than 25,000 followers on Instagram. From different parts of Venezuela, he is commissioned to make empanadas to donate to poor schools and communities in Coroso Panto, a town of more than 400 people, 50 kilometers from the nearest town of Calaposo.

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“The authorities said they were carrying out an operation in the area, but they only entered our restaurant, and the truth is that this was the first time we had seen Cheniet there,” says Corina. The sisters recorded the practice and dared to reveal the trick. “We don't have to be quiet. “There's no way we're going through this.” They closed Pancho Grill for 15 days. But they say they are ready to reopen to the public and want to continue distributing food to anyone in need at Coroso Panto. “The children are missing so much.”

The restaurant was founded 20 years ago by Francisco Hernandez, the only male of the five brothers. In the early years stewed chicken with rice and salad was the only meal on the menu for travelers on the national highway who stopped for a Creole breakfast of beans and fried eggs, fried pork and fried meat. For many years they lived like the country. Their grill is damaged and the echo they grill empanadas at half speed. As customers dwindle, Francisco moves to Peru, where he sells empanadas.

The story of Pancho Grill, María Corina Machado, and Seniat is the epitome of absurdity. But this is not the first time this has happened. On more recent tours, hotels where presidential candidates stayed have been fined under the same procedure disguised as tax audits. Machado barely made it check, authorities have ordered the closure of shelters in Falcón and Zulia and imposed fines. Machado has insisted that he has been barred from traveling on domestic flights since he was a representative for more than a decade. There was no official order, but no airline sold him tickets due to pressure from the authorities. Their actions are usually in a cab, without a stage, because the providers of these services who tried to make a deal with their party have already been arrested. Chavismo used the same practice when Juan Guaido led the opposition. The maneuver is known, but now Los Hernandez has resisted.

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Chavismo, in its worst electoral moment, took up the hand-to-hand symbolism of María Corina Machado's campaign promoting the candidacy of Edmundo González Urrutia. . Disqualified by the Supreme Court and the imprisonment and persecution of his close group, Deostato Cabello, the first vice-president of the PSUV, followed the same path as the leader, organizing simultaneous political events in support of Nicolás Maduro. Cities she visits. The state apparatus has also been mobilized to make the daily life of his opponent more difficult, with the blockade of bridges and roads forcing Machado to cross rivers in a curiara to get from one place to another or to walk long distances. Go to his rallies.

At the same time, Venezuela is waiting for election monitoring missions from the Carter Center, the United Nations and the European Union, which the government recently announced it was withdrawing. This is happening at the negotiating table where Barbados is trying to maintain some of the terms of the agreement, and when the deadline given by the US to foreign companies expires at the end of this month, the sanctions will start a new scenario for oil businesses and specific licenses that will see a new movement. On the street sign, you can see what the majority of polls say: more than 80% of Venezuelans want political change, and despite pressure, the opposition leader is now defying him on trips that will continue until July 28. : “Come to my business, even if they close it.”

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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