What is the price of food in Venezuela

VenezuelaNo affordable groceries, but free gasoline

A million liters of premium gasoline for the equivalent of 20 cents? No, you have not misheard! Venezuela's economy is on the brink, has shrunk by half in five years. Oil production has fallen from 3.5 million barrels a day to around one million. In 2018, inflation was a staggering 1.5 million percent. Long queues form in front of the state supermarkets. People hope to get hold of a few kilos of cornmeal or rice, for which they pay a sixth of their monthly wages in the subsidized shops. Petrol, however, is given away.

"The price is the same as it used to be," reports gas station attendant Carlos Fajardo, originally a journalist.

"A full tank of fuel costs 100 bolivars, but there was a change in currency, the new currency has lost value again and now there is no means of payment that is small enough to pay for a full tank."

100 old bolivars - that's 0.001 new bolivars and it takes more than 3,000 of those to buy a dollar!

Worthless paper: a man holds a 100 bolivar note in his hand (AFP / FEDERICO PARRA)
"The petrol is free," says gas station attendant Carlos Fajardo succinctly.

"No banknote is small enough to pay for the tank," says taxi driver Freddy. "That's why you give the gas station attendant the smallest note or whatever you want, just to pay. It also happened to me that I didn't have a small note and they gave me the petrol for free." Or in exchange for a packet of cookies.

Gasoline smuggling is an extremely lucrative business

Petrol in Venezuela costs practically nothing in Venezuela (AP)

According to gas station attendant Carlos, there is no shortage of petrol at the petrol stations in Caracas. It is different in the border region with Colombia. No more than 30 liters may be refueled there. Because with the price differential, gasoline smuggling to Colombia is an extremely lucrative business. Why is not at least the cost price charged?

"Because the government is fearful and weak. The gasoline subsidy costs at least 20 billion dollars a year," believes the sociologist Trino Marquez of the Universidad Central in Caracas.

Better gasoline than medication

The absurdity is that the most oil-rich country in the world has to import large parts of gasoline because it does not have sufficient refinery capacity. As a result of the sanctions, petrol could soon become scarce, but not more expensive. What is in the ground, namely oil, belongs to the people - this is the Venezuelan creed.

Governments that dared to raise gasoline prices have fallen in the past. Nicolas Maduro wants to avoid that in any case, which is why he continues to give away the gasoline instead of spending the 20 billion dollars a year on food and medicine that the people urgently need.