A restaurant challenges the president of Venezuela by selling empanadas

Revenue agency representatives did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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

The video quickly spread online and soon outraged supporters were visiting the restaurant as if they were making a pilgrimage. Donations appeared at the door: spices to season the filling of empanadas, a 33-pound bag of cornmeal. Then funds began to arrive from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and even Germany.

Many people sent in orders of empanadas, along with instructions for the family to distribute them among locals in need.

Recently, in her restaurant, Corina Hernández thought that 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,” he said. “Everything has improved.”

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