Girish Gupta

HOME

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact (PGP Key)

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Venezuelans smuggle petrol as blackouts spread
Jun. 15, 2011

Published by Financial Times

In the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio, motorists fill their tanks for $1 then drive a few hundred yards into Colombia, syphon out the contents and sell them to middlemen for $40. Meanwhile, as electricity blackouts spread this week from Caracas to Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second city, president Hugo Chávez is putting the blame on unidentified saboteurs.

Heavy subsidies on petrol and electricity clearly aren’t working. But looming elections next year mean the Chávez administration probably can’t do much about it.

The government has been urging people to cut use of both fuel and electricty as public coffers struggle to keep up with demand – even though high international oil prices have been pouring money into one of the world’s biggest producers.

Chávez and Rafael Ramírez, oil minister, called for a cut in fuel use earlier this year – analysts suggest the subsidies cost the public sector about $21bn a year when lost profits are taken into account.

And this week, in response to the power cuts, Elias Juaa, vice president, announced tough penalties to curb use, with businesses and residential customers having to cut down by 10 per cent or face hefty fines of up to double the value of their bill if usage increases by more than 10 per cent.

But Chávez knows he must be cautious as the presidential elections approach. When the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez attempted to cut fuel subsidies in 1989, hundreds were killed in the ensuing Caracazo riots.

Chávez is too skilled in public relations to make the same mistake and will be hoping that high oil prices will lubricate his election campaign – for which state oil company PDVSA will be the cash cow – before he has to make any serious cuts.

The spread of power outages and any talk of reducing use of petrol – which Venezuelans regard as a birthright – will add to the impression that Chávez’s socialist revolution isn’t really working. The president will need to quash this quickly, as the country’s unorganised political opposition begins to find some common ground.




More...

Crisis-hit Venezuela halts publication of another major indicator
Mar. 21, 2017


Back in Venezuela, 'world's worst skier' proud of his performance
Feb. 26, 2017


Some poor Venezuelan parents give away children amid deep crisis
Dec. 15, 2016


Desperate to dump soon-worthless cash, Venezuelans flock to banks
Dec. 13, 2016


Inflation-hit Venezuela to pull largest bill from circulation
Dec. 11, 2016


Venezuela confirms bigger bills amid world's highest inflation
Dec. 04, 2016


Venezuela PDVSA awards $3.2 bln oil service contracts, protest brews
Sept. 21, 2016


Maduro revels in support from Zimbabwe, Iran as critics decry failed summit
Sept. 18, 2016


Venezuela summit draws few leaders in blow to Maduro
Sept. 17, 2016


Near Venezuela summit, pots-and-pans protest showed domestic tumult
Sept. 17, 2016


Once 'Pearl of Caribbean' gets new shine for Venezuela summit
Sept. 16, 2016


Maduro boasts start of Venezuela summit despite 'gringo pressure'
Sept. 13, 2016


Venezuela's troubles overshadow Non-Aligned Summit
Sept. 11, 2016


Venezuela renews drilling tender after earlier collapse - sources
Aug. 26, 2016


Hungry in a Venezuelan slum, a Facebook Live video
Aug. 04, 2016








© Girish Gupta