Venezuelan homemaker Carmen Rondon lives in the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, but has spent weeks cooking with firewood due to a chronic shortage of home cooking gas – leaving her hoarse from breathing smoke.
Finding domestic gas cylinders has become increasingly difficult, a problem that oil industry analysts attribute to slumping oil output in the OPEC nation – which is struggling under an unraveling socialist economy.
State oil company PDVSA says the problem is due to difficulties in distributing tanks amid four months of anti-government protests in which its trucks have been attacked.
“I’ve spent three weeks cooking with wood and sometimes the food does not even soften properly, I can’t stand it anymore,” said Rondon, as she lined up to buy a cylinder under the scorching sun in the city of San Felix in southern Venezuela.
More than 100 people were ahead of her in line.
Nine out of 10 Venezuelan homes rely on cylinders for home gas usage, with only 10 percent receiving it via pipelines, according to official figures. The government launched a plan 12 years ago to bring some 5 million households onto the natural gas network but was unable to follow through.
Venezuela’s socialist economy has been in free-fall since the oil price collapse in 2014, creating shortages of everything from diapers to cancer medication and spurring inflation to triple-digit levels. Read more