Venezuela sits on the world’s largest known reserve of crude oil in the world. Yet fuel shortages are plaguing the nation as Venezuelans must sit in line for hours just to get a few gallons of gasoline. It is a stunning and logic-defying feat only socialism can pull off.
But as Venezuelans suffer through gas shortages in their oil-rich nation, dictator Nicolas Maduro is making sure his colonial masters in Cuba are getting paid the tributes they demand.
The Regime Keeps Shipping Gas to Cuba While Venezuelans Push Their Cars
On May 16th, Iván Freites, head of the Oil Workers Union of Falcon State, denounced that the Paraguaná refinery is producing 170,000 gasoline barrels per day, when it should be producing 956,000. Hours later, long lines of up to 200 vehicles started rolling into gas stations all over the country, especially in Merida, Tachira, Lara and Zulia. Things are so bad, that drivers are coming to blows over fuel.
Zulia, Venezuela’s oil heartland, has been suffering fuel shortages for months. Guillermo Blanco, regime minister for Refinement and the Petrochemical Industry, announced rationing schedules for gas stations, accelerating the region’s collapse. For instance, there’s barely any public transportation and shop owners, who have been forced to purchase power generators due to the electric crisis, are finding it hard to keep them running without gas.
For Freites, the root cause of these problems is evident: corruption and the dismantling of oil refineries such as El Palito and Puerto La Cruz, completely shutting down gasoline production. The regime has even resorted to importing gas, an operation that the U.S. sanctions are making more difficult. Meanwhile (and according to reports from Radio Fe y Alegría), people frustrated without power and water under the scorching Zulian sun are kidnapping fuel trucks right on the road.
And despite a crisis that can extend itself to catastrophic ends, the Maduro regime continues to send fuel to Cuba.
“Cuban ships arrive at Amuay’s harbor, turn off the lights and shut down the GPS transponders to hide their location, in order to load gasoline and gasoil and take it to Cuba,” says Freites, adding that 58,000 barrels out of the 100,000 they take daily, now include lubricants, gas and crude.
In this regard, an incident was reported on May 1st. According to journalist Sebastiana Barráez, the dictatorship’s political police boarded the oil ship Manuela Sáenz to force it to change course to Havana, replacing the captain when the crew refused in protest.
“Cuban ships enter international waters, where they can sail freely, although later they must figure out how to sell gas, with the U.S. restrictions,” said Freites, adding that Maduro will prioritize Caracas for as long as he can.
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It is yet another clear sign that Venezuela is being ruled by Havana, and yet another clear sign most will ignore.