Tuesday, January 27, 2015 10:06 pm
It’s hard to argue they don’t in this oil-rich but cash-strapped country where gas sells for $.15 a liter, or less than 60 US cents a gallon, the world’s cheapest.
But the last government that tried to raise prices, in 1989, ignited riots that left hundreds dead nationwide.
This time, the government of President Nicolas Maduro seems to be gingerly preparing the public with a major ad campaign.
One recent spot on state television shows some carpenters setting a price for rocking chairs.
“All told, each rocking chair is costing 2,500 bolivars. I calculate we should sell at 100 bolivars,” says one, as his buddies look at him like he’s crazy.
A voiceover interjects: “In Venezuela, something similar is happening with gasoline prices, they’re 35 times less than the cost of producing it.”
The ads sweeten the pill by promising that with higher prices “we will have more resources for more housing, more health, more education.”
Gas prices have been frozen since 1998, and even talk about raising them has long been taboo.
But with the country immersed in an economic crisis made worse by falling oil prices, Maduro has spoken cautiously of the need for more realistic prices.
Still, he told the National Assembly, “we can’t take irresponsible or hasty decisions.”