March 15 (UPI) -- Venezuela's government has threatened to seize control of bakeries that fail to implement regulations to combat bread shortages.
"They're going to pay, I swear. Those responsible for the bread war are going to pay and they better not complain that it was a political persecution," he said on Sunday, according to the BBC.
He added "speculators who hide the bread from the people will face the weight of the law."
The government says that bread shortages are caused by bakers who use their allocated flour to bake pastries instead of baguettes or loaves of bread, resulting in long lines at bakeries.
"Bakeries which do not follow [the rules] will be occupied by the government," Vice President Tareck El Aissami said.
The baker's federation, Fevipan, said the shortage is a result of bakeries not receiving enough flour.
"Currently 80 percent of bakeries have inventories at zero, 20 percent have received 10 percent of their monthly consumption," Fevipan said on Twitter.
Venezuela doesn't produce its own wheat and Fevipan says government wheat imports have fallen short of the amount needed to produce the required amount of flour.