Venezuela, where an egg and 93.3 million liters of petrol cost the same

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Maduro accuses US sanctions for the crisis

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed US economic sanctions on Thursday for the country's severe food and medicine shortage.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed US economic sanctions on Thursday for the country's severe food and medicine shortage.

Caracas

An egg in Venezuela costs the same 93.3 million liters of gasoline and with a dollar it is possible to buy the contents of 14,600 trucks: in the former oil power, hyperinflation and stagnating prices cause fuel to be wasted.

The paradox is that with the cheapest petrol in the world, the Venezuelans face cycles of scarcity, the last of which since last week, with rows of several days to fill the tank in different regions.

"Gas is free here", commented the economist Jesús Casique at AFP.

An egg at the supermarket is paid at 933 bolivars, but at the service station a liter of petrol costs 0.00001 bolivar.

A 50-liter tank is filled with 0.0005, an amount impossible to pay precisely: the lower denomination ticket is two bolivars after a monetary conversion launched by President Nicolás Maduro last August.

Five zeroes were then stolen from the bolivar, but the new notes were pulverized by a hyperinflation that the IMF projects in 10,000,000% for this year. The coins do not exist.

"The little one who gives money to the person who throws gas at the station is the tip," because petrol has virtually no cost, said Henkel Garcia, director of the Econometric company, AFPTV.

A dollar, quoted this Tuesday at 5,546 bolivars according to the Central Bank of Venezuela, buys 554.6 million liters of petrol, enough to fill 222 Olympic swimming pools.

"How was it made so cheap? With an inflation that was growing and a price of stagnant gasoline," explained Garcia.

– The increase, a "taboo" –

Maduro's 2018 adjustment plan included the increase in gasoline, even at international prices for people without "Carnet de la Patria", a document that gives access to subsidies and that the opposition considers a control mechanism social.

The rise has never materialized in the country with the largest oil reserves, whose production has fallen to its worst levels in three decades.

With this collapse, Venezuela is experiencing the worst crisis of its modern history.

For Maduro, the situation is the product of an "economic war" of the opposition and of the United States to overthrow it; for his detractors, with parliamentary leader Juan Guaidó at the head, the product of years of incorrect Chavismo policies.

The increase in gasoline was taboo (…). Much of the political world thinks that the increase in gasoline may increase social pressure and may lead to political change, "said Garcia.

In 1989, after a price adjustment, there was a social epidemic known as "Caracazo", which left 300 dead in Caracas and neighboring cities, a ghost that is stirred up whenever an increase in the price of petrol is raised .

– Poor subsidies to the rich –

For a liter of petrol to be sold in Venezuela at an international price, it should reach 4,659 bolivars per liter, explained Casique.

The huge difference between this amount and what Venezuelans pay actually costs the state about $ 5.240 million a year, according to specialists.

"Giving gas (…) is a very regressive subsidy, because those with cars are the richest social group. It is a subsidy paid by those who do not have cars for those who have cars, and this is something very harmful, "said Garcia.

Lack of fuel is added due to the difficulties of Venezuelans, including blackouts and shortages of basic necessities such as medicines.

At the moment, Venezuela refines only 100,000 barrels of gasoline a day, half of the demand, being forced to import the rest, said the deputy of the opposition José Guerra.

But, in a context of drought dollars for the crisis, "we have no way to pay those 100,000 barrels," added Guerra, a former Central Bank executive.

The entry into force at the end of April of an oil embargo in the United States also makes it difficult to buy gasoline from American companies "which were the ones that normally provided us," said Garcia.

(tagsToTranslate) Venezuela (t) petrol (t) oil (t) hyperinflation (t) fuel

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