“There were no medicines [before], and now no gasoline,” said Muñoz, 28, who lives in Venezuela’s coastal Carabobo state, two hours from the capital. When drugs were scarce last year, he said, he went eight months without medication. Now he can source his medicines, but the gasoline shortage has made his dialysis sessions, at a hospital 17 miles from his home, nearly impossible to reach. “What hope do I have?” he asked.
Stung by one of the globe’s worst economic crises long before anyone had heard of covid-19, the socialist nation is used to deprivation. Venezuelans have struggled for years against shortages of everything from food to toilet paper to drinkable water.
Shortages of gasoline — nearly free and considered a national entitlement in this OPEC nation — began in some parts of the country years ago, as local refineries started to fail, and smugglers funneled truckloads of cheap Venezuelan fuel to black markets in Colombia and Brazil. But analysts are calling the severity of the current gas shortage unprecedented — so bad that vegetables are rotting on farms, doctors can’t get to work and even the people of Caracas, a bubble ordinarily spared the worst of Venezuela’s misery, are waiting in gas lines miles long.