By El Pitazo with additional reporting by Carlos Camacho.
On the morning of Monday, June 1, there were queues of cars at the entrances of some 1,000 gas stations throughout Venezuela, with drivers waiting to re-fuel under the new scheme established by the government of Nicolas Maduro.
One of the first Venezuelans to fill up was a biker in Lara state who paid $3 for six liters of gasoline at the international price. That’s means the salary of a month.
The subsidized price of VEF 5,000 (US$0,025) per liter is only available if the motorist shows several documents, including the Carnet de la Patria, a social control tool launched by Maduro in 2016, and which the opposition has denounced as an extortive practice.
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If you don’t have the carnet, you have to pay $0,50 per liter, roughly the same price as in the U.S., what Maduro is calling the international price.
By mid-morning, users were reporting that the carnet was not working: the scanned fingerprint did not appear, and gasoline was not dispatched.
Only credit cards from state-owned banks are being accepted. Blackouts in several states of Venezuela also mean that there is no gasoline at any price since pumps can’t work without electricity.
Reports from the states
At 8:30 am, long lines of vehicles were visible in Vargas and Apure state with citizens waiting to be refueled. In Zulia, the stations began to fill up the drivers, but they only delivered 30 liters of fuel per car.
At 6:00 am, in Los Teques, even though several sectors of the city have been without electricity for more than 12 hours, vehicle owners waited in the dark, dangerous streets for the opening of the gas stations to fill up. Three service stations were affecting by the power- cut. At 8:00 am, neither of those stations had begun serving the public.
In Guarenas, at 7:30 am, in front of El Cercado service station, on the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho highway, drivers awaiting gasoline blocked the road in both directions. They have been waiting since last Thursday, May 28, to refuel, although they were given tickets to refuel this Monday, June 1.
According to personnel at one of the stations, they were told to accept credit cards of the state banks. Also, the driver must have a Venezuelan license or, failing that, have the vehicle registered to his name.
At the gas station on the Caracas-La Guaira highway, drivers dawned in line to fill up, but around 8:00 a.m they had not begun serving the public, even though it is one of the 200 stations licensed to charge in foreign currency, and the Petro crypto-currency that Maduro regime has been flogging for years, without success.
In Lara state, at 10:00 a.m., there were still delays in Barquisimeto and Cabudare because they have not installed yet the points of sale or a bio-payment system, that lets people pay by scanning your fingerprint. Also, pumps had been stopped for last-minute maintenance.