A restaurant challenges the president of Venezuela by selling empanadas

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

The Hernández sisters were initially shocked. But they filmed their interaction with the regulators and sent it to one of their daughters. The young woman decided she could share the family experience with some 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 season the empanada filling, a 33-pound bag of cornmeal. Then funds began 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,” he said. “Everything has improved.”

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