Venezuelan businesses press Maduro for solution to diesel shortages

Venezuelan farmers, manufacturers and retailers on Wednesday pressed President Nicolas Maduro to speed up a plan to resolve shortages of diesel, warning that lack of fuel was threatening harvests and food transport in the crisis-stricken country.


Reuters | Caracas | Updated: 28-04-2021 22:29 IST | Created: 28-04-2021 22:27 IST
Venezuelan businesses press Maduro for solution to diesel shortages
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Venezuelan farmers, manufacturers and retailers on Wednesday pressed President Nicolas Maduro to speed up a plan to resolve shortages of diesel, warning that lack of fuel was threatening harvests and food transport in the crisis-stricken country. Maduro last week called on his oil minister to present a plan to boost diesel production within 72 hours. Aquiles Hopkins, president of Venezuela's Fedeagro farmers' association, said authorities had not contacted farmers and he was not aware of any plan.

"Those 72 hours were up on Saturday night," Hopkins told reporters, noting that diesel shortages had led to losses in bean and sugar crops due to an inability to harvest. He added that farmers may lack fuel to plant staple crops such as rice and corn, a cycle that should begin in two weeks. Neither Venezuela's information ministry nor its oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.

Hindrances to producing or distributing crops could aggravate hunger in Venezuela, a once-prosperous South American country now suffering years of hyperinflation and recession. Maduro last week reached a deal with the U.N.'s World Food Programme to deliver lunches to 185,000 schoolchildren. Maduro blamed the shortages on U.S. sanctions, which are aimed at ousting him. Last year, Washington eliminated an exemption to sanctions that allowed Venezuela to export crude oil and receive diesel in return. Critics argue that problems at Venezuela's refineries are the main cause of fuel shortages.

Some individual businesses have sought to resolve their shortages by importing diesel from neighboring countries, but have not yet received approval from authorities to do so, said Luigi Pisella, president of the Conindustria manufacturers' association. Felipe Capozzolo, president of the Consecomercio retailers' group, said the fuel crisis could result in higher prices and product shortages.

"That is exactly what we should avoid at all costs," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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