Venezuela’s western states continued to experience chronic gasoline shortages today, prolonging a week-long deficit of the vital commodity.The shortages have hit Zulia, Barinas, Merida and Tachira states the hardest, but at least four other states are also running dry: Portuguesa, Lara, Yaracuy and Carabobo.
Merida state appears to be hard hit by the shortage, with one resident telling El Nacional today that she had been unable to find any gas stations that were still selling the product. Instead, she said, she was forced to hire a motorcyclist to drive around and find her gas on the black market.
On Tuesday, the state-owned PDVSA oil company announced that it was having difficulty shipping gasoline to Barinas, Zulia, Merida and Tachira states due to “international blockade measures”. PDVSA did not explain what it meant by the term.
In Barinas state, 20-liter containers of gasoline were selling for Bs. 300,000, which is roughly $2.70 or just 13 cents a liter. While the black market price is low by international standards, the price of gasoline in Venezuela is regulated at $0.01 per litre, making it the cheapest on the planet.
The image below, taken this afternoon, shows a long line of motorcyclists waiting to fill up at a gas station somewhere in Barinas state:
Below, lines of cars stretching into the distance toward gas stations in Portuguesa state:
Despite having the largest proven oil reserves on the planet and having once been an oil powerhouse, years of corruption and mismanagement have turned PDVSA into a husk of its former self. Last year, the National Assembly estimated that at least $11 billion had been embezzled through the oil company by corrupt government officials between 2004 and 2014.
Foreign Affairs Minister: Canada, US “Threatening” Venezuela
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement today accusing the governments of the United States and Canada of “threatening” Venezuela after a meeting in Ottawa between U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland. The two met on December 19 to discuss the North Korean nuclear crisis, but the topic of Venezuela also came up during the meeting.
According to the Foreign Ministry’s release, the meeting constitutes an attack against “peace and sovereignty” in Venezuela. Calling the U.S. and Canada “the two main military powers in the hemisphere”, part of the release reads:
We reject these threats and any kind of action taken by these governments in order to amplify the illegal economic blockade [sic] and destabilize the peace and quiet of the Venezuelan People [sic], as well as measures to pressure our sister nations in Latin America in order attack the government of president Nicolas Maduro.
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