The Venezuelan capital was overwhelmed on Tuesday by kilometer-long lines of vehicles around the service stations on the second day of the new state fuel supply plan, which has shown disorganization and chaos caused by failures in payment systems.
For the second consecutive day, hundreds of drivers formed in the vicinity of the service stations that opened, some of them, after seven in the morning, despite the fact that the authorities announced that they would start operating from five to twelve hours.
Connection failures in the state and private electronic payment systems continued to generate delays that forced drivers to remain several hours in the lines of the stations that sold subsidized gasoline at 5,000 bolivars (2 cents) per liter.
In the stations that dispensed the fuel at the international price of 50 cents per liter, operations were more fluid.
Some gas stations ran out of fuel in the middle of the morning due to strong demand, forcing their owners to close them waiting for tank trucks to arrive to refuel.
One of the drivers who was affected by the strong demand was Vanesa Vismara, a 39-year-old clothing designer, who after waiting about five hours was stranded in front of the vending machine because the fuel from a station ran out.
“I do not know how I will go to look for my children because the tank of my car is empty and here I arrived pushed,” Vismara said as she checked the messages on her mobile phone looking for some solution to her personal tragedy.
The designer said that the day before she also tried to fill the tank with another personal vehicle, but had no luck because the service station closed early because she ran out of fuel.
Dany Mujíca, a 23-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, was luckier than Vismara because he managed to supply the tank for his small motorcycle.
While filling a half-liter plastic container with gasoline to help another colleague who was stranded in line due to lack of fuel, Mujíca said that the day before he managed to get supplies thanks to the fact that he paid an employee at a station in the east of the capital. five dollars for 10 liters, a price that more than doubled the official price of 50 cents per liter.
“I preferred paying more than running out of gas. You don’t know when this will explode again and the shortage will return, ”said the motorcyclist.
The National Assembly, with an opposition majority, on Tuesday classified as “unconstitutional” the increase in gasoline agreed on May 30 by President Nicolás Maduro.
The opposition leader and head of Congress, Juan Guaidó, stated during a session that the new fuel sale plan will generate “more smuggling and corruption than already exists and destroyed Venezuela.”
Authorities activated a national fuel sale plan at international prices from June 1 after almost three months of a severe shortage that authorities attributed to sanctions imposed by Washington to pressure the departure of the Maduro government, while analysts and Opponents assure that the fuel shortage is a consequence of the paralysis of the refining system due to the lack of investment and the mismanagement of oil facilities.
The Oil Minister, Tareck El Aissami, came out in defense of the new plan, assuring that it had been a “total success”, and said, in response to the criticism that arose on the first day of application, that “we are going to improve the quality of the service, improving the interconnected biopayment system, the means of payments at the stations. ”
The activation of the plan coincided with the relaxation of the quarantine, in force since mid-March, and the revival for five days of some sectors such as construction, the textile, shoe and chemical industries, and banking, among others.
The plan foresees a dual pricing scheme: gasoline is sold at 50 cents per liter and is paid in foreign currency at some 200 private stations, while at the remaining 1,368 public stations it is sold at the subsidized price of 5,000 bolivars (two cents of dollar) per liter and the supply is limited to 120 liters per month for vehicles and 60 for motorcycles.
The state corporation Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) managed to recover supplies thanks to the support of Iran, Maduro’s close ally, who sent five tankers with 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and additives that began to arrive in the country in late May.
The government has not reported how much fuel they have to supply the country, which had a demand of about 127,000 barrels per day before the quarantine. PDVSA President Asdrúbal Chávez only indicated on Monday that “today we have sufficient inventories and provisions for this demand.”
For decades the oil nation, which has one of the largest reserves of crude oil, has had the cheapest gasoline in the world – less than 10 cents a liter – but due to the severe shortage of fuel, it began to trade on the black market on two dollars a liter, well above international prices.
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