The queue for gasoline in Western Venezuela attracted at least 700 people by dawn on Sunday, as widespread fuel shortages continue to plague the crisis-stricken yet oil-rich nation.
In the city of San Cristóbal in western Táchira state, local witnesses said that 700 people had already begun lining up for fuel by the early hours of Sunday morning, forcing the closure of the road.
“Gentlemen of @PDSVA This is not athis is the reality in “Long lines to fill up with fuel… and citizens protesting to demand the shipment of gasoline.”
Señores de @PDVSA esto no es un #FakeNews esta es la realidad en #Táchira. Largas colas para surtir combustible, ES cerradas y ciudadanos protestando para exigir el envío de gasolina. pic.twitter.com/xGlCSm5s4N
— ZULMA LOPEZ (@ZULOGO) May 18, 2019
Local journalists from Reporte Ya spoke with a man who explained that many elderly people were forced to wait up to four days to access fuel, many of them in need of medical treatment.
#19May #Táchira #SinGasolina Unos 800 tachirenses amanecieron solo en la cola de la E/S Cristo Rey en #SanCristobal muchos de ellos personas de la tercera edad con tratamiento medico. Ya hoy suman cuatro días de espera. – @roshernandez pic.twitter.com/Ems2XBo2Ik
— Reporte Ya (@ReporteYa) May 19, 2019
A report from Reuters revealed that, under orders from the regime, members of the country’s National Guard were forced to wear anti-riot gear as they were tasked with controlling the distribution of gasoline. Drivers were reportedly limited to purchases of 40 liters (10.6 gallons) per vehicle, roughly equivalent to a full tank for a compact car but well below capacity for SUV’s, 4×4’s and other large vehicles.
Similar shortages were also reported in other states across the country, with soldiers overseeing the rationing of fuel amid a chronic lack of supply from the country’s state-run oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela (PDSVA). However, there were no reports of shortages in the Caracas metro area, after Maduro reportedly ordered authorities to prioritize supplies to the nation’s capital.
It is not the first time that vehicle owners have been forced to wait days to access fuel, with the socialist regime last year piloting a new scheme aimed at preventing foreigners from profiting off of subsidized prices. Gasoline has long been subsidized by the regime as part of their socialist program, although the near total collapse of the state-run oil industry has made it just one of the many commodities that have become impossible to access.
Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó denounced the “absurdity” of the fact that Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves yet fuel shortages are rampant around the country.
“How is it that they can send oil to Cuba and not here? It is absurd that there is no gas in an oil-rich country,” the 35-year-old said at a rally on Sunday. “But let’s not be defeated by despair. We are organizing the future. The dictatorship steals money and keeps it, but they cannot take away our future.”
— Centro de Comunicación Nacional (@Presidencia_VE) May 18, 2019