Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro informed Venezuelan citizens on Monday that they would no longer be able to take advantage of the country's cheap gas prices without registering for a state ID card.
Citizens had been able to fill up their tanks for a fraction of a penny, a huge break for people in a country where wages are low and food prices are exorbitantly high.
What did Maduro say?
The Venezuelan president said that the prices were being raised to combat crime.
“Gasoline must be sold at an international price to stop smuggling to Colombia and the Caribbean,” he said.
Venezuelan citizens may still be able to get gasoline at lower prices, but only if they register with the government and present a government issued ID card.
This “fatherland card” would keep track of how often they took advantage of government subsidies and other social services. Any Venezuelans who refuse to register will have to pay international prices for fuel, an impossible feat for many in that country.
Despite having an economy crippled by failed socialist policies and falling oil prices, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world.
How bad is it in Venezuela right now?
Inflation in Venezuela is on track to hit 1 million percent by the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The price of a cup of coffee with milk is reportedly 2.2 million bolivars, or the equivalent of 50 U.S. cents. As of July, Venezuela's minimum wage was equal to roughly $1 in U.S. currency per month.
With prices so high and wages so low, Venezuelans have struggled to buy even basic necessities.
Maduro declared that he will combat this inflation by removing five zeros from the currency. The new “Sovereign Bolivar” will be released on Aug. 20, which Maduro has declared to be a national holiday.
The U.S. has hit the Venezuelan government with stiff sanctions to restrict “the regime’s ability to liquidate state assets at fire-sale prices at the expense of the Venezuelan people.”