Restaurant Challenges Venezuelan President by Selling Empanadas

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The Hernández sisters were initially devastated. But they filmed their interaction with regulators and sent it to one of their daughters. The young woman decided she could share her family’s experience with friends.

The video quickly spread online, and soon outraged supporters were visiting the restaurant as if on a pilgrimage. Donations appeared at the door: spices to flavor the filling for empanadas, a 33-pound bag of cornmeal. Then funds started pouring in from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and even Germany.

Many people sent in orders of empanadas, along with instructions for families to distribute them among local needy people.

In her restaurant recently, Corina Hernández thought Ms. Machado might have been sent by God himself. The government’s retaliation had become, paradoxically, a blessing.

“Our lives changed after María Corina came to buy our empanadas,” she said. “Everything got better.”

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