Getting gas in Venezuela
It’s a routine errand, expensive, kinda smelly, and utterly unexciting, for millions (billions?) of people. Filling up the tank. Getting gas. Burning dinosaur bones. (And you were worried this was a chronological consequence of the post about Venezuelan food. Tut tut, I’m classy.)
You pull into the station, maybe wait in line, park your car, turn it off, no smoking, no cell phones, stand there bored while the thick black hose squirts thick black sludge into your car, the sun is hot on your neck. Then swipe your card to pay your $30, $40, $50…$60 per tank?
It’s pretty much the same in Venezuela, with one major difference. No, it’s not that there was no brand name necessary on the shelter. No, it’s not the absence of muzak “radio” piped in.
Can you guess the difference?
If my math is correct, with it’s flurry of units of measurement, and depending on what rate you actually get for your dollar (no one uses the official rate, so I’m using the average rate one gets in a hotel, about 45 bolivars per dollar), a gallon of gas that day, and every day, in Venezuela costs about $0.008 per gallon.
A gallon of gas costs less than a penny.
How do you feel about that?
But that’s Venezuelan gas, we Americans get the finer stuff, the Saudi Arabian stuff, the moral stuff, right?
Guess who is, and always has been, the number one purchaser of Venezuelan oil. I don’t even need to tell you.
(And we can get into the relative morality of Venezuela versus the Middle East another day.)
How do you feel, right now, about the subsidies oil companies receive? How do you feel about the fact that the profits they make are the highest in human history?
Really quite cross.
It’s really hard to explain to non-Venezuelans exactly how cheap the gas is there because, at least in North America, we don’t have any comparable items that are as cheap. “$ 0.008” is an abstract quantity to think about because there’s nothing that’s really worth so little.
Right now, it’s looking like the days of cheap gas in Venezuela are coming to an end, since the PSUV is going to increase them, although it’s unclear by how much or when. In any case, rising gas prices are a matter of if, not when.
Thanks for the interesting posts. I hope you’ve learned a few things in your travels around Venezuela!
“How do you feel, right now, about the subsidies oil companies receive? How do you feel about the fact that the profits they make are the highest in human history?”
Same way I’ve always felt–appalled.
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