Severe fuel shortages mean Venezuelans have to wait long hours, and sometimes days, in their cars to access the pump. The wait ends up forging links between motorists and gives material to tell about his life and his daily life to overcome boredom …
The worst is when it rains. At night, especially. Zoraida and her daughter Josefina then stay in the car, waiting for the tanker. You can’t open the windows wide, so you have to put up with the heat. It is out of the question to put on the air conditioning and consume the little gasoline that remains: the next day, you must have enough to go and get breakfast. Zoraida is worried the truck won’t arrive, and who knows if it will arrive the next day? She sometimes falls asleep during the night, almost always chanting her rosary.
Zoraida is 84 years old, a car with a manual transmission and only one still valid eye. A hemorrhage in the retina made her blind on the other, years ago. She has spent three nights in her car near a gas station in Macaracuay, in eastern Caracas. Josefina, his eldest daughter, aged 64, keeps him company in the family’s other car. They are used to going for gas together. A long line of motorcycles waits on the sidewalk opposite. That of cars stretches over several kilometers.
The most expensive gasoline in the world
“At the beginning I had the number 80 and some, Zoraida says. But people have left, now I’m 40 and a few. I won’t leave until I get gasoline in my car. ”
Until the beginning of March 2020, Venezuela had the cheapest gasoline in the world. Then, as the first cases of Covid-19 were announced, fuel supplies deteriorated across the country.
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The capital Caracas, which had rarely suffered from gasoline shortages, unlike neighboring states of Táchira and Zulia, has seen long queues forming all over the area around gas stations. This lasted for several months.
The black market, as often in Venezuela, solved the problem by setting the price per liter at 4 dollars. And the country now has the most expensive gasoline in the world. Zoraida remembers:
Before the arrival of the coronavirus, I had already spent three days and three nights on Avenue Lebrún. I had to wait until the third day, at 11 p.m., for me to be 10 liters of gasoline. ”
On May 30, 2020, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro presented a new fuel supply and pricing system. With a subsidized component where the liter is 5,000 bolivars (0.026 dollars), but the quantities limited to 120 liters per month for a car, 60 for a motorcycle. And a second component, unlimited, at $ 0.5 per liter.
Zoraida, the popular granny
The price of gasoline had not changed since 2016. Until May 2020, fuel was virtually free. It was not uncommon for the gas station attendant to serve you for free or arrange for some form of barter if you had no change. Pens, food, drinks: gasoline is
Created in 2009 in Venezuela, Shopkeepers is a site for reflection on current events which collects analyzes of historians, scientists and academics on the situation in the country. The founder, Ángel Alayón, is an economist trained in