Several people stand next to vehicles lined up to enter a service station during a fuel shortage in the country, in Caracas, Venezuela. (The Associated Press)
Caracas – The first of three Iranian ships loaded with fuel arrived in a Venezuela that despite having some of the largest oil reserves in the world is starving for hydrocarbons , which has fueled social unrest and protests in most of the states of the country.
Although the spontaneous demonstrations – which exceeded one hundred in the last week – are not very numerous, the contagion effect has generated alarm among the authorities who have sent dozens of soldiers and police to those towns to try to stop the shock wave, activists and townspeople to The Associated Press .
Some media announced the day before the arrival at the El Palito refinery, in the central state of Carabobo, of the Iranian ship Forest loaded with some 300,000 barrels of fuel. The information is based on reports from vessel monitoring companies that assure that the tankers Fortune and Faxon are on the way, bringing another 500,000 barrels.
Regarding the shipments, the opponent Iván Freites, secretary of the Unitary Front of Petroleum Workers of Venezuela, affirmed that these shipments will not solve the shortage problems , which have worsened since last month forcing the closure of numerous gas stations and generating kilometers of lines of vehicles in the vicinity of the few outlets that remain operational.
Venezuela's domestic consumption is around 100,000 barrels a day, so the new Iranian shipments do not cover the total demand, Freites said.
The union leader said that the shortage will persist because most of the refining system is paralyzed due to failures in facilities and water and electricity services and lack of investment and maintenance in equipment. He added that the only refinery that is operating is Cardón, in the western state of Falcón, which produces 20,000 barrels a day.
The government maintains that the lack of gasoline is a consequence of the sanctions imposed by the United States on the administration of President Nicolás Maduro to pressure his departure from power.
Maduro announced on the day that in two refineries the production of gasoline and other petroleum derivatives was resumed, so he trusts that within 30 days, counted from October 5, the supply of fuels in the country would be regularized. .
At the same time, he stressed that as of Monday, a controlled sales mechanism will govern, which will allow the controlled supply of fuel depending on the final number of the vehicle's license plate.
Under this mechanism, the aim is to “regularize well and quickly” the supply of gasoline, he said.
Five Iranian tankers arrived in Venezuela in the middle of the year, transporting 1.5 million barrels of fuel and additives that helped solve part of the shortage that the South American nation had been facing since March.
The arrival of the Iranian oil tanker did not generate much emotion in the small agricultural municipality of Urachiche, in the central western state of Yaracuy, which was the scene last week and for five consecutive days of street protests that unleashed other demonstrations in different parts of the country.
Unlike other periods of protests, this time a very particular phenomenon is taking place because the demonstrations occur in small rural towns where this type of action had never been reported , activist Marco Antonio Ponce , coordinator of the humanitarian organization Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS).
Ponce attributed the phenomenon to “the deepening of the crisis” in those regions due to the lack of water and electricity, which in most cases lasts for more than a week, to which was added fuel shortages.
According to OVCS records, 748 protests were reported last month with a daily average of 25 demonstrations. Ponce estimated that in September the figure will double due to the fact that between 50 and 70 daily protests have occurred in recent days.
Ponce expressed that it is difficult to foresee whether these protests will consolidate in the South American nation, burdened by a complex economic crisis with hyperinflation and a severe recession that has lasted for six years and is estimated to exceed 30% this year in the middle of the new coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 74,000 infected.
The humanitarian organization Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea), one of the most important in the country, and OVCS expressed on Wednesday their concern about the “advance of the repression policy implemented by the State” amid the protests and they indicated in a statement that at least 30 people have been detained and “numerous injuries and complaints of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, illegal raids on the protesters' homes have been reported.”
The complaints come a few days after the presentation of the report by a United Nations mission that accused the Maduro government of crimes against humanity, highlighting the cases of torture and murders allegedly perpetrated by the security forces that used techniques such as electric shocks, genital mutilation and suffocation.
The Venezuelan authorities rejected the report claiming that it is full of “falsehoods” and was “prepared remotely” and “without any methodological rigor by a phantom mission directed against Venezuela and controlled by governments subordinate to Washington.”