Last Wednesday, May 22, during a trip to San Fernando de Apure, María Corina Machado and her team decided to have breakfast at Pancho Grill, a restaurant managed by the Hernández sisters: Elis, Mileidis, Pastora and Corina. That day, they sold 14 empanadas, which was more than their usual daily sale of three empanadas.

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However, joy turned into concern when hours later, Seniat, an entity attached to the Venezuelan Ministry of Economy, closed the store due to “administrative irregularities.” According to statements by María Machado in

The news of Pancho Grill’s closure spread quickly on social networks, awakening solidarity from people throughout Venezuela. They began placing orders for empanadas from different parts of the country, paying for them in advance.

Undeterred, the Hernández sisters moved their kitchen to the garden, improvising a space with a cauldron on cement blocks. Orders were managed through their newly created Instagram account, which was already followed by almost 18,000 people by Saturday, May 25, and the empanadas are now known as “freedom empanadas.”

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